Question to Answer – How Do We Make It Work?

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 and 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 do this mom and dad have to find a way to find and extend forgiveness, grace, compassion, acceptance, flexibility, adaptability, 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 their children:

  • Are constantly put in the position to have to pick and choose between mom and dad.
  • Worry that what they say will result in some kind conflict between mom and dad.
  • Live in the fear that something they say or do might be responsible for the relentless tensions that surround them.
  • Are frustrated by the persistent negotiations, or complete rigidity, about how and when they spend time with either their mother or father.
  • Are exposed to the necessity of having other people interceding into their family for them or their parents.
  • Are exposed to the never ending, seeming life and death legal battle where a judge determines who they can be with and when.

This excellent HUFFPOST blog article relays – If Your Kids Could Make the Rules of Divorce.

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 far more than anything either parent may do as individuals. When parents animus towards each other becomes this consuming it often deteriorates into Parental Alienation 

The Dads’ Resource Center was able to connect with Dr. Raymond Petren an Associate Professor for the Penn State Scranton Department of Human Development and Family Studies, who shared a tip sheet  of what is working for recently separated dads based on his research. These are some great mindsets and areas of focus to help single fathers successfully co-parent their children.

By committing to finding a way to collaboratively co-parent 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.

Local Help

Don Page, LCSW
DFP Counseling Services
1402 S. Atherton St.
State College, Pa. 16801

Rana Glick, MA, LMFT
Marriage Therapist, Divorce Coach & Family Facilitator
215 Blue Bird Lane
Port Matilda, Pa. 16870

Dr. Jennifer Mastrofski
Does four hour educational seminars to help parents understand a child’s needs in relation to divorce and separation.

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:

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