3 Ways to Re-Focus Your Co-Parenting
Co-parenting doesn't always come easy
Knowing how to co-parent before, during, and after a divorce or separation can be tough. Between coping with your emotions towards the situation and navigating any legal process that ensues, it can be hard to keep one's attention centred on trying to be amicable. Add constant conflict to the mix, and it can be even more difficult to want to cooperate. Instead of forcing yourselves to come together, taking a step back from engagement may help you to re-focus your co-parenting for the better. Consider these three ways to re-focus your co-parenting.
Disengage From The Conflict
Conflict stemming from a difficult divorce doesn't simply end once the papers are signed and the situation is final. For parents raising their children together after divorce, getting the conflict under control and driving their focus on what's really important is crucial. "Children involved in high conflict divorce are trapped between two parents who have lost their perspective on the most important piece of the divorce equation: their children," says Brook Olsen, founder of the High Conflict Diversion Program, a programme that offers courses to help parents learn how to manage and reduce conflict during divorce. In an article about mitigating high conflict divorce, Brook explains that the first step of removing conflict is to disengage from it by way of avoiding face-to-face or verbal contact. He suggests using non-verbal means to communicate, and limit your contact to only be about your children. In disengaging from each other, you are backing off from building more hostility in your situation. This gives you a chance to reflect on yourself and focus your energy on how to improve your co-parenting from your end.
Parallel parenting and disengagement tend to go hand-in-hand. Parallel parenting is a strategy in which parents focus their energy away from their own engagement and keep it on their own individual parenting. In this practice, each household may maintain different routines, rules, and expectations for the children. Some might consider this to be too confusing for children, but others maintain the fact that children are quite adaptable. In his article, Brook describes how many times, children will acclimate to whatever the rules are in both of their houses, just as they do at school, other friends' houses, and the different places they go each day. Parental conflict is often more difficult for children to navigate that a few different house rules. Parallel parenting lets parents re-focus their efforts on their own home instead of trying to influence their co-parent's home. Even practising parallel parenting for a period of time can be beneficial and help parents get back to a place where they can co-parent effectively.
Co-parenting isn't something that just comes naturally for everyone after divorce. Many may find that they desire some guidance in terms of where to focus their energy in order to make co-parenting work. Parenting education can be a great option during the transition period during or after divorce. Parenting classes geared toward those facing divorce can teach you new strategies you might not have considered for negotiating decisions, overcoming conflict, and even simply how to be a better parent to your children. Whether parenting education is mandatory or not in your situation, it's well worth considering, and several course options exist including both in person and online options.
Taking the time to re-focus your co-parenting may prove to be a big help in reducing conflict and getting to a place where you can raise your children together with your co-parent amicably. In order to do so, taking some time to disengage from each other can give you a chance to clear your mind and re-centre your focus. With that, parallel parenting will set you up to continue raising children together even while disengaged. Finally, educating yourself on new ways to mitigate disputes and communicate will offer you support and new ideas about co-parenting that you can bring into your situation once you're ready to re-engage.