I recently attended a seminar taught by a co-parenting counselor who specializes in helping divorced parents learn to co-parent. With her 30+ years experience in this area, she shared some of the co-parenting techniques that she teaches to divorced parents:
To effectively co-parent, you must love your children more than you hate your ex-spouse. As much as you may dislike or even hate your ex, the two of you share a common denominator: you both love your children. Effective co-parenting means staying child centered. Remember that after the divorce your life has not changed nearly as much as your child’s has. Your children must now live in two different homes and sleep in two different beds, whereas you remain in one house and sleep in the same bed every night.
Children learn by example. Therefore, how you act towards your ex-spouse directly affects your children. If children see their parents solving problems effectively and communicating with dignity and respect, children will learn to do the same. You have a choice in how you act during and after the divorce. You can choose to act in a way that improves the quality of your child’s life. This includes the words you use, your tone of voice, and even your body language. Effective co-parenting involves a desire to act in the child’s best interest, not your own.
Effective co-parenting involves communication. Communicate with your ex like you would communicate with a co-worker. Don’t raise your voice, call names, or roll your eyes. Communicate with your ex like you are a news reporter. Be objective when you report information about the children to your ex. Report only the information that is essential to the proper raising of your children. Don’t spin the facts. Don’t manipulate. Don’t talk about court, money, personal relationships, or your past together.
Before going to court, try co-parenting counseling or mediation. The court cannot help you deal with the emotions surrounding the divorce such as anger, grief, and loss. Co-parenting counseling and mediation can help you get to a point of emotional acceptance so that you can start co-parenting. Mediation can help you solve problems that the court process cannot.