If someone would have told me six years ago that I and my ex-husband would get along and become friends and work together as a co-parenting team, I would have told them they are crazy and that he is too bitter to do that. Well, it did happen and I am so grateful it did and it’s because of prayer. My ex-husband is a wonderful father to my girls. I am so thankful to God for him. I’m not even sure how it came about, but it did and the friendship between all three of us: meaning me, my husband and my ex-husband keeps getting better and better. About three years ago all of us went to a local festival and it was great it was just my kids and my stepkids came with us too. We went on rides together and had dinner there. I think what works the best between us is that we share the same morals and rules and we support one another. Sometimes it’s us three against my girls, we have each other’s back which is really important in a co-parenting team. Because of this, my girls are very happy and they are both doing really well in school, they have no emotional baggage or divorce depression between the two of them even though the girls were ages 4 & 5 when we got the divorce from one another. Discipline has been easy, my ex-husband supports me in how I discipline them and I support him. I can’t stress enough how great it is for the children when two parents that are divorced can get along and become a Co-parent Team. The children benefit so much from it. What helps us the most is that we are both on the same page with everything, which makes it work and when we are upset with one another for whatever reason we don’t get my girls involved in it and we work it out without them even knowing there is a problem. Even with our Co-parenting being healthy, it doesn’t mean that my girls will never experience emotional or psychological distress at times, but so far it’s been great. Ron Deal has stated that there have been numerous studies documented that children who experience parental divorce exhibit more conduct problems, more symptoms of psychological maladjustment, lower academic achievement, more social difficulties, and poorer self-concepts compared with children living in intact, two-parent families. In the Smart Step Family book, I have read that 80 percent of children from divorced homes will eventually adapt to their new life whereas 20 percent have a difficult time and will display irresponsible and impulsive behaviors, depression and antisocial behaviors. I do know this to be true because my stepkids are going through this due to the fact their mother is bitter and angry from the divorce still, therefore, she is very difficult to work with about anything relating to the stepkids. Because of the mother, my stepkids have impulsive behaviors, depression and antisocial behaviors and even some immaturity for their age. It saddens me that we can’t become a Co-parenting team with their mother. I wish things were a lot different between us and that we could work together to help the stepkids adjust to the divorce and being apart of a stepfamily.
- Always speak positively about your ex-spouse, no matter what. When angry with them, do not get the kids involved, resolve it between the two of you, don’t include the kids in it.
- Respect each other and step parent.
- If the rules differ from one house to another house, always be supportive even if you don’t agree with the other parents’ rules.
- Recognize special occasions such as the parent’s birthdays, Christmas, Fathers or Mother’s Days and take the kids to get them something from them. Give them the opportunity to see them for those occasions.
- Be Supportive of one another. For example, if one of the children has an issue and is angry at the other parent, do not take sides with the child. Comfort them and try to say that “I am sure your Dad means well and that he does things only for their best interest”. Don’t ever put their Dad down or stoop to the child’s level.
- Be Flexible – In case the parent wants the child on a day where they are not scheduled, try to give them the opportunity to see them whenever they want.
- Make sure the kids have everything they need for their visits with their parent
- Communicate with the ex-spouse when needed about any concerns with the kids or upcoming events at school that they need to know about. Make sure they are always informed about any sporting event, school meetings, or anything relating to the children.
- Always keep scheduled visits, try your best to avoid having to cancel or move them around.
- When a babysitter is needed always ask them first before seeking someone else to watch them.
- Help the children adjust to going to the other home as much as you can whatever way you can do that.
- Try to always negotiate the Holidays, Birthdays or special occasions to make sure the other parent gets time with their children.
Things to avoid:
- Don’t capitalize on their hurt when the child is upset with the other parent or stepparent did, do not berate the other parent or stepparent especially in front of the children or with an ear shot away from the children.
- Not calling the ex-spouse about a sporting event change in time or location or school meetings.
- Don’t expect the spouse to carry out a punishment from one house to the other house. Let them be able to have time with their kids freely.
- Never punish the kids by taking away their visitation with their parent as a form of punishment.
- Don’t talk about your personal life or current marriage problems with your ex-spouse.
If you follow these guidelines and avoid the other things, you should be successful at becoming a co-parenting “One” team.
Ron Deal (2002). The Smart Step-Family. Seven Steps to a Healthy Family. Bethany House Publishers.