Divorcing with children in the house is typically harder than it is when there are no kids affected by a couple’s circumstances. There are more financial considerations to address and a very strong likelihood that the parents will continue seeing each other frequently until the children turn 18, if not for the rest of their lives.
One of the most common pieces of advice given to those sharing custody of young children is to change the focus of their relationship from highlighting the harm caused by their spouse to prioritizing what is truly best for the children. Regardless of how toxic things may have become between the parents, they both generally want what is best for their children. If they choose to work together, the situation can be far less stressful and damaging for the children involved. These are a few ways that parents can minimize the conflict they experience and keep the focus on what is best for their children.
Establish long-term goals for children
Whether one parent intends to groom the children to take over the family business or the parents need to address college expenses and preparations, the long-term goals of the children should impact everything from the budget to the schedule of the family while the children are young. When parents have shared goals that they want to achieve for their children, like setting aside a certain amount and savings for their college tuition, it may be easier for them to cooperate with each other.
Highlight where the other parent succeeds
It’s very easy to be critical of a co-parent and to find fault with their late arrivals to exchanges and other obvious failings regarding adherence to a parenting plan. However, even the most devoted parent is only human, and most people in co-parenting arrangements will do what they can for the benefit of their children. Making a point to mentally note whenever the other parent goes above and beyond or does something particularly considerate for the children can help create a sense of positivity and gratitude in a co-parenting relationship.
Have a plan for the disagreements that arise
Butting heads about whether one of the children is old enough to start taking a martial arts class or get their own mobile phone is a normal part of co-parenting. It is easier to overcome those challenges without them negatively impacting the children in the family if the parents have a plan in place for navigating their disagreements ahead of time. Having a co-parenting therapist, pastor or trusted family friend to serve as a mediator can help facilitate faster and more amicable resolutions to disagreements between the parents that might otherwise affect their ability to work cooperatively for the children.
Keeping the focus on stability for the children and trying to support one another instead of fighting against one another may ultimately benefit not just parents but the entire family as household circumstances change.