It is not uncommon for parents to turn to friends, family, professionals, and even the Internet looking for advice on how to help children cope after a divorce. What you will often find in this situation is a wealth of information on what you should not do rather than what you should do. However, it is in knowing what you should do that will help your child in the long run.
What you should do is ensure that you co-parent with your ex-spouse as effectively as possible. The best way to help a child cope after divorce is by working with the other parent to provide feelings of comfort and ease. Divorce is difficult for all parties involved. You and your spouse may feel bitter toward one another. Still, you must co-parent more effectively for the benefit of your child.
Effective and Reliable Tips
If you wish to ease feeling of distress your child feels after the divorce, employ the following co-parenting tips.
- Accept – No matter how your marriage ended, accept it. If you dwell on it, feelings of anger and bitterness will build. Acceptance allows you to move forward so you can behave civilly with your ex for the benefit of your child.
- Encourage – Your child may cry the first time he or she has to leave to go spend the night with the other parent. Make sure you offer encouragement. Let your child know that it is okay and that you both love him or her as much as before. You should always encourage a relationship between your child and the other parent.
- Quality – Create a co-parenting schedule based on quality rather than quantity. It is not about who has the child more often. Instead, the schedule should reflect what works best for you and your ex so you can spend quality time with your child.
- Location – There may come a time when one of you has to move to a new location, perhaps for a new job. Do not throw accusations at one another over the move or try to prevent it. To co-parent more effectively, you should be willing to work together to create a schedule that still allows your child to see the both of you.
- Communicate – Always ensure your child can communicate with you and your ex. Open and encourage lines of communication via phone calls, texts, messenger, video chat, and email. Keeping lines of communication open strengthens healthy relationships between parents and children.
- Activities – When your child goes to stay with his or her other parent, you may feel lonely or upset. Find activities to do so that you can keep your mind occupied while your child is gone. If you dwell on it, you may react negatively to the situation, which is unhealthy if you wish to co-parent more effectively.
- Teamwork – Although you and your ex are no longer invested in one another, you are still a team for the sake of your child. Work together to ensure that your child is happy, healthy, and receiving as much quality time with you both as possible. Attend school events together and show interest in grades, parent teacher conferences, and other events that may place the two of you together at the same time.
- Happiness – At some point, you or your ex will move on and find someone else. Express feelings of happiness rather than anger of bitterness. If you are angry, your child may withdraw from the other parent. Instead, be happy that there are more people involved who will love your child.
- Positivity – Always keep a positive outlook when it comes to your ex if you want to co-parent more effectively. Even if something bothers you, you should always speak in a positive manner about the other parent. If you speak ill, your child may feed off what you say, which can create a parental alienation situation.
- Compromise – Be willing to accept that there are times when your ex may have to cancel on a scheduled visitation. Things come up and life happens. Do not hold grudges over it. Instead, compromise with your ex. Be willing to allow visitation on unscheduled day to make up for the unexpected events that might occur.
Co-parenting is not an easy task, but it does not have to be a difficult one. If you learn to co-parent more effectively, you can make life easier on yourself, your child, and your ex. The goal is not to create more harm than good.
If you find that you are struggling with co-parenting, speak with a therapist. A therapist can help you work through issues that might be creating a blockade for successful co-parenting. In fact, a therapist can provide even more useful tips that can help you co-parent more effectively.
Monica Ramunda is a solution-focused therapist with an office located in Louisville, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).