Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Parenting is tough. It is far, far tougher when you and the child’s other parent live apart. Following are some tips to consider to make it easier and more effective for your child.
First and foremost, DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU. It does not matter if you are a Christian, another religion or no religion at all, this is good advice. If you If you wouldn’t like it if two people you love were trying to get you to choose one of them, don’t do it to your child. If you don’t want to be yelled at or cursed, don’t do it to your co-parent. Everything else is a variation of this rule.
Keep conversations about your child about your child. This is not the time to talk about all of the things your ex has done to upset you. Focus on the child.
Be civil. Perhaps your mother said “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.” Its good advice. If your ex gets ugly, leave the conversation until later.
Be on time. Its tempting to be late just to annoy the other parent. Sometimes, it happens without conscious intent. You just don’t feel making your ex wait is a big deal. It is a big deal. Remember, your ex may have other plans and you are making him or her late for them. Also, he or she is probably fuming in front of your child about you being late. It also sets up a cycle where the other parent is late to get even.
Share information. Be inclusive. If your child is going on a field trip, let the other parent know. If you get a schedule of your child’s baseball practices and games, give the other parent a copy. If the child has a doctor’s appointment, let the other parent know and then tell the other parent what the doctor said. If the situation were reversed, you would want to know.
Keep exchanges short and sweet. This is primarily for your child. The longer the exchange, the more likely it is for a conversation to take place that may get ugly. Sharing information can be done at another time. Encourage the child to go to the other parent. Avoid acting upset or sad about the child’s time with the other parent. Otherwise, your child will feel torn by his or her loyalty to each parent. If your child is upset, remind the child of fun times he or she had with the other parent and that this visit will probably be fun, too.
Encourage your child to love the other parent. Children need to know its okay to love both parents. It is not enough to refrain from talking negatively about the other parent in front of the child. You need to go a step further and communicate to your child that you want him or her to love both parents. Your child needs to feel free to love both parents to grow up mentally healthy.
For more information:
Divorcing Parents Seminar
Children’s Bill of Rights in Divorce by Robert E. Emery, Ph.D., Psychology Today
A Divorced Child’s Bill of Rights by Julie A. Ross, M.A and Judy Corcoran, Huffpost