Co-parenting can be challenging – especially if things with your former spouse didn’t end well.
You might be stressed about money, worried about your ex’s parenting abilities, or simply tired of conflict. While it may be tricky for you to navigate this new arrangement, it’s important to remember that it’s not easy on your child, either. And it’s your job to do everything you can to help them adjust and thrive in their new ‘normal’.
Learn how to share custody of a child and make the transition as smooth as possible with these tips.
Always put the child first
Your relationship may be over, but your family isn’t.
No matter how stressful or frustrating it can be, it’s important to put your own emotions aside for the sake of your child. Conflict between parents can be hurtful for a child to witness – particularly if they feel like it’s their fault their parents are fighting.
Maintaining a civil co-parenting relationship is key. This means being flexible and cooperative when making shared decisions around your child’s care. Avoid making demands out of spite, and always keep your child’s best interests at heart to ensure arrangements are made with their wellbeing and stability in mind. Keep conversations focused on your child’s needs, not yours or your ex’s.
Co-parent as a team
It’s essential that you work together as a team when it comes to your child. Maintaining consistency with rules and discipline between both homes helps your child avoid confusion and know what’s expected of them.
If your child has lost privileges in one household, the other should follow through with this discipline. It’s important to present as a united front so your child knows you and your co-parent are on the same page.
If you’re struggling to agree on arrangements, you might like to try mediation. Mediation can help you communicate respectfully, navigate conflict, and come to a mutually acceptable solution.
Maintain routine where you can
Routine makes children feel safe. While their new ‘normal’ might come with some changes, it’s important to try and maintain a routine where you can.
Stay consistent with set days spent with each parent. Keep days structured with regular mealtimes and bedtimes across each household. Agree on meeting at the same place for every drop-off and pickup.
While you may need to be flexible at times, try to keep your joint child custody arrangements as predictable as possible, and remember to keep your child in the loop with as much notice as possible when things change.
Don’t put your child in the middle
No matter what your personal relationship is like, it’s essential to keep any issues with your co-parent away from your child. The last thing a child wants is to feel like they have to pick a side with their parents.
Avoid speaking negatively about your ex around your child. Your child deserves a relationship with their other parent, and complaining about them could unfairly influence their feelings. If you need to vent your frustrations or talk through your concerns, speak to a trusted friend or professional.
You should also avoid using your child as a messenger to get information to your ex. Always call, text, or email them directly. Seeing your relationship with your ex as a business partnership where your “business” is your child’s welfare can help you communicate in a civil and respectful manner.
Having a hard time agreeing on joint child custody arrangements? RAQ offers support for families who are considering separation, currently going through separation, or who have already separated. To find out what services might suit you, please call us on 1300 364 277 between 8am-8pm Monday-Friday or 10am-4pm Saturday.