Cooperative Parenting After Divorce

Ask the Experts by Sonya Thompson

Q: I feel like my ex-husband and I cannot get along. I am not sure how to put aside our differences – can you help?

A: Feeling hurt or angry is common. If you want to succeed as co-parents, the “co” has to mean cooperation.

Shifting roles from former spouse to co-parents can be challenging. Parents might find it difficult to manage anger or hurt without putting their children in the middle. Criticism of the other parent in the presence of the child can be detrimental.

Regardless of the family structure, children need parents who are dedicated to their well-being, and who separate their personal problems and conflicts from their role as co-parents.

You can start the process of co-parenting with a fresh perspective by applying a couple of strategies:

  • Allowing the children to love both parents: parents can work to identify valuable and positive attributes of the child’s other parent. They learn to create a loving environment that minimizes stress, especially during transitions. They become knowledgeable of the loyalty the child has for both parents.
  • Changing your long-term role (Letting Go or Holding On): divorced parents can examine the prior attachment they once shared. By recognizing that the bitterness he or she has is another way of holding on. However, once you disengage emotionally, the grief process can begin. Only then, you can start forgiveness and discuss values and future rituals. Parents start to realize that they are separate but equal partners in their children’s lives.

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