When facing a divorce, you still want to be the best parent you can be. You want the best for your child. All parents do. But how can you provide the best for your child in the aftermath of a divorce?
The most important thing to remember is that children need involvement from both parents whenever this is possible and reasonable. Good parenting for divorced parents requires strategic planning, hard work and commitment from both parents.
Quality Parenting Requires Involvement from Both Parents
Although the general consensus in the recent past was that fathers held little to no intrinsic importance and that mothers could handle all parental duties without any negative impact on the children, these views are changing. More recent studies are showing that children really do need both parents to have a balanced, healthy upbringing.
Co-Parenting Starts Before the Divorce
The messier your divorce process is, the harder it is going to be to pick up the pieces and begin working together in a co-parenting relationship once the divorce is finalized. It is almost impossible to go through a messy, contentious divorce and then start co-parenting peaceably together the following week.
Further, most children are severely impacted by seeing their parents go through a messy divorce.
Plan from the very beginning to avoid letting your children see you go through the contentious courtroom process. Instead, consider mediation and collaborative divorce as potential alternatives that allow a more private, amicable and team-oriented approach that can set the tone for your working relationship for years to come.
Making a Clear Plan
One of the most important benefits of mediation or collaborative divorce is that these methods encourage creativity and teamwork. Rather than having a judge tell you how your co-parenting plan is going to work, you and your ex-spouse can decide what will work best for your lives.
It is critical to make a clear plan about:
- Times of custody (who has your child and when)
- Transitions (where and when will you meet to drop off and pick up your child)
- Holiday schedules
- Schooling and medical decisions
- Basic disciplinary and child-rearing choices
If you can reach agreement on these issues before the divorce is finalized, rather than figuring them out on the fly, you will be well positioned to ease into the transition and minimize conflict.
Communication is Key
Inevitably, problems will arise. People get sick, they run late sometimes, jobs change and countless other issues arise regularly.
The most important thing two divorced parents can do is communicate well. If you are running late to drop off or pick up your son or daughter, call. Let your ex-spouse know so you can make other arrangements. Talk over difficult situations that arise you can work together to provide a unified approach.
In all the challenges of co-parenting, your child should still be one of the greatest joys of your life. Make sure you take time to laugh with your son or daughter and enjoy being a parent.
If you want to learn more about mediation, collaborative divorce or other forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in divorce, reach out to an experienced family law attorney who can explain the process for you.