By Daddy Nickell
Divorce is hard enough to go through as an adult, however, when kids are involved the struggle can reach a whole new level. I’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts that will make co-parenting a little bit easier, so that you and your ex are able to focus on being the best parents you can be.
Do: Communicate with your ex. As much as you likely don’t want to communicate with your ex after a divorce, you need to remember you both have a child together, and the communication will be beneficial to that child. Talk with your ex to determine what will work best for you. If something comes up, such as: your child gets sick, breaks a limb, has a fight at school, etc. while you’re not around, you’ll need to know so you can be the best parent you can be. You and your ex will need to establish a simple means of communication – be it a weekly text, email, or a phone call – so that both parents have a firm grasp of what’s going on with your child at any given time.
Don’t: Trash talk your ex. Trash talking might be tempting at times, but it’s not something you ever want to do in front of your child. Listening to you say terrible things about your ex could potentially damage your child’s relationship with the other parent, and that’s really not worth it. Learn to let go of your frustrations and focus on what’s really most important – your child’s health, happiness and well -being. With two caring parents nearby, whether married or divorced, a child will likely be able to achieve those things.
Do: Stay positive. It can be difficult to stay positive in the midst of a divorce and even after, but you should strive to stay positive for the sake of your child. Make positive statements about your ex in front of your child, and focus on building your child up by encouraging their strengths. Your child might experience anger and depression that has stemmed from the divorce, so you’ll need to be so positive that your mood rubs off on them.
Don’t: Force a child to choose sides. Do whatever it takes to keep your child out of a messy divorce. Don’t ask them to choose sides. Instead, create a fair schedule wherein your child will have the opportunity to spend time with both yourself and your ex. Forcing a child to choose between Mom or Dad can be detrimental to your child. Remember that you’re a parent – first and foremost – and do whatever will be best for your child.
Do: Find consistency. Co-parenting works best when there’s consistency — consistency in schedule, rules and visitation. You’ll need to communicate with your ex in order to establish consistency in your child’s life. Having this consistency and routine will help your child feel more comfortable and at ease within the chaos of divorce.
When in doubt, remember that your child is more important than anything else, and try to be the best parent you can be.
Parenting Expert and father of 7, Robert Nickell (aka Daddy Nickell) offers his “5 cents” worth of advice to expectant and new parents. Daddy Nickell is the founder of Daddy & Co., delivery room duds and daddy gifts and apparel for every stage of fatherhood, and the Daily Daddy Blog. He is also the creator and producer of “My Life as a Dad,” the groundbreaking new web series that showcases celebrity fathers offering their personal experiences and parenting tips.