Question To Answer
How Do we make it work?
Communication is absolutely vital. Both parents have to be able to speak to one another in a calm and productive manner to make it work. In order to this mom and dad have to find and extend forgiveness, grace, compassion, acceptance, flexibility, selflessness and generosity toward the other parent.
The longer the Family Reorganization and Co-parenting stages drag out the more the children are negatively impacted by the separation. The more parents focus on the negatives of the other parent, any real or perceived micro aggressions and indulge the persistent assumption of the worst intentions or actions for the other parent, the more negatively the children are impacted and end up:
+ Constantly being put in the position to have to pick and choose between mom and dad.
+ Worrying that what they say will result in some kind of conflict between mom and dad.
+ Living in the fear that something they say or do might be responsible for the relentless tensions that surround them.
+ Being frustrated by the persistent negotiations, or complete rigidity, about how and when they spend time with either their mother or father.
+ Being exposed to the necessity of having other people like social workers, lawyers, guardian ad litems interceding into their family for them or their parents.
+ Exposed to the never ending, seeming life and death legal battle where a judge determines who they can be with and when.
The Dads’ Resource Center was able to connect with Dr, Raymond Petren, Associate Professor for the Penn State Department of Human Development and Family Studies, who shared a tip sheet of what is working for recently separated fathers based on his research. These are some great mindsets and areas of focus to help single fathers successfully coparent their children.
All parents make mistakes and have their shortcomings. But when a separated mother and father become overly reliant on the legal and court systems to sort out their differences (and the systems themselves are VERY much guilty of enabling this process) it negatively impacts the children as much as, or even more than, anything either parent may do as individuals.
By committing to finding a way to collaboratively coparent mom and dad can become happier and more able to move forward in their own lives without being burdened by a toxic relationship with the mother/father of their children. More importantly, they can allow their children the benefit of a more tranquil and healthier transition into a separated family.
Once everyone knows where the children will be and when, and how they will be supported, mom and dad have to figure out how to co-parent as separated parents. This can be incredibly challenging and often takes some time. But the onus is on mom and dad to find their way through this process because the children can’t move on until they do.
Parenting is not a one person job. Even in a separated family, both parents should view the other parent as an equal partner in the upbringing of their children. Mothers and fathers give different, equally important, things to their sons and daughters. More than anything else, children need both of their parents actively engaged throughout their childhood to have the best chance to be successful in life.
There are interventions available to help the family reorganize, but mom and dad should not come to rely on the legal system or courts to manage their relationship. When this happens, it puts the children in a constant state of uncertainty and stress. Parents need to understand how important it is that they develop a working partnership on behalf of their shared interest – their children.
EVERYONE MUST HAVE A 100% FOCUS ON WHAT IS BEST FOR THE CHILDREN.
Parallel Parting is an option if mom and dad just can’t communicate or come in contact with one another without conflict. This requires:
1) a very detailed parenting plan
2) an avenue for asynchronous communication
3) a commitment from mom and dad to stick the plan.
The parents can work with a third party if they are unable to come up with a detailed parenting plan on their own. This might be a counselor or therapist who has experience working with high conflict custody cases, a custody mediator, a member of the clergy or an attorney that practices family law. If they are involved with family court, a judge could possibly make this an order.
Direct communication should be avoided, with one primary, indirect, channel of communication. Emails or texts can possibly work, but there also are apps like my family wizard that are designed for high conflict custody situations, and should be strongly considered if it reaches the point where parallel parenting is necessary.
Again, mom and dad have to be aware of the damage that the children suffer from their parental conflict and everything that comes with it. This concern has to supersede whatever desire they may have to be combative with one another, as they commit to the plan they come up with and the protocols they develop for communicating.
Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Parents
A very good article from Helpguide.org offers advice on:
- Co-Parenting after a separation or divorce
- Co-parenting tips for divorced parents
- Communicating with your “ex”
- Parenting as a team
- Making transition easier
“Making mutual decisions and cooperating with your “ex” can give your children stability and close relationships with both parents—but often it is not easy. Putting aside disagreements and relationship issues in order to co-parent agreeably can be stressful. Despite the many challenges, though, it is possible to develop a cordial working relationship with your “ex” for the sake of your children. With these tips, you can remain calm, stay consistent, and avoid or resolve conflict with your “ex” and make joint custody work.”
Online Parenting Tools
There are many online tools to help Parents who are separated, divorced, or were never together in the first place. Communication is key; along with keeping track of scheduling parent time, sharing important family information, managing expenses as well as creating an accurate, clear log of divorce communication. Below are two tools that we have found to be beneficial: