Divorce is difficult enough for everyone in the family – particularly the children. They are experiencing significant turmoil and desperately want their parents to get along and not fight. They need them to not fight. This will help them overall feel safe and feel as though things will be okay, even if it does not feel that way in that particular moment. The disruption that comes as a result of the divorce is difficult enough for them to work through much less the fighting. It can be too much.
Although parents feel the pain of the divorce as well and know that it is causing significant pain for their child or children, trying to find a way to make it work can be hard, as co-parenting presents many challenges. The rational part of the divorcees (for the most part) knows they need to get along and put their differences aside, but many times a divorce is difficult and being able to do that on an emotional level is something entirely different.
But it is possible: parents can absolutely develop a cordial and amicable relationship with each other once they become exes– especially for their children, who are depending on both halves of the whole to do this. Parents who were once raising their children under one roof can learn how to become better co-parents as they now have two homes to navigate. Being able to co-parent amicably can create healthier relationships or everyone – both parents and children.
As a therapist who does co-parenting counseling, I help couples create new patterns of thinking and behaving. That is the long game – the long-term goal couples strive for when entering therapy. The short game, however, is to initially help couples remain calm and consistent while resolving and/or avoiding conflict. This helps create happier children and a healthier environment for parents and their children; it also gives them the ability to better resolve conflict or head it off by taking a proactive rather than reactive stance. Learning how to put aside negative feelings and put hurt and anger aside while keeping your children front and center is key. Co-parenting counseling allows each person to work out their issues with their ex to avoid this being done around your children.
Although all families are different, there are several key areas that are often present:
- Improving communication and resolving conflict. Effective and healthy communication is key. Although ways in which divorced couples communicate vary, importance is placed on finding a common ground – a good way – to communicate. Not one way works for every couple.
- Critical contentious and challenging issues. Some issues are resolved over a cup of coffee, many are not. What are your challenging issues and how will you start to address these?
- Strengths of relationship. Even divorced couples have strengths. Its important to identify these. This will help couples recognize that although they are divorced, they have had successes. Capitalize on them.
- How to move through change as children get older. Its important to recognize the developmental changes that children experience, will need to be taken into account as time marches on.
- Value of consistency between two homes. Although this is a perfect scenario, we all know its not always possible. Strive for consistency to the degree that you can between the two homes. Think of what’s best for your children, not what you are comfortable doing – or not.
- Importance of creating strong relationships with your children. Children do best when their parents get along, they have a relationship with each parent, and are able to spend individual time with them.
- Blended family issues. As time goes on, many people find themselves dating and meeting new people. When blended families arise – and they often do – coparenting counseling helps address the many issues inherent in blended families.
The gift in co-parent counseling is that you will learn how to build a healthier family post-divorce as you both move into the next chapter of your lives. And, because children take their social cues from their parents, you will be demonstrating how to be kind and compassionate towards one another even though you are no longer married. This will help them navigate their own changes that they are experiencing and teach them to treat all humans with compassion regardless of their relationships.
Related Links: 7 Issues All Co-Parents Face And How To Overcome Them