Making Co-parenting Work

When going through a divorce, it is easy to focus on the anger and sadness you are experiencing from this traumatic event. You may be especially concerned if there are children involved, as you only want what is best for them. However, sometimes couples going through a divorce will bring their own issues into discussions of child custody and co-parenting. Today, we will discuss why this can be harmful to children and offer suggestions for effective ways of co-parenting with your ex.

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune highlights the story of Catharine, a mother of two who divorced her husband after 17 years of marriage. While she admitted to being sad and angry over the breakdown of her marriage, she said her desire to be a positive influence for her children has enabled her to keep things civil with her ex.

Catharine said her main strategy is to remain rational and mature instead of letting her ego get in the way. This approach allows her to make sure that she does not take out her frustrations with her ex on her children.

According to clinical psychologist Dr. Christine Costello, Catharine's approach is not common among divorcing parents. Unfortunately, she reports that many parents do not place the interests of their children ahead of their own interests. Costello says many parents bring their own marital issues into discussions about child custody and co-parenting and forget about what is most important.

Costello suggests that parents going through a divorce are careful to never speak critically of their ex in front of the children. Oftentimes, children will view this as criticism of them because they love that parent. Also, she encourages parents to get on the same page as early as possible so they can work together on parenting the children. Finally, she stresses the need for open communication between not only the parents, but the children as well. The more your family is able to talk through any issues, the more likely your children will emerge unscathed from the divorce experience.

Source: Chicago Tribune "Successful co-parenting," Jenniffer Weigel, 26 October 2010

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