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There’s more going on right now that we do not see behind closed doors. Marriage, relationships, and divorce are all not always easy and during a pandemic the tension and stress are high. Though every relationship is important, our main focus right now needs to be on our children and being the best role models we can be.

Right now, co-parenting peacefully is probably very difficult but very important. 

Why? Because children who see their parents continuing to work together are more likely to learn how to effectively and peacefully solve problems themselves.

The Best Co-Parenting Strategies:

1. Communicate. Right now, there are so many things out of our hands and so much unknown, not only are you and your ex unsure of what’s going to happen, so are your children. You and your ex need to be on the same page during this time. With schools shut down and normal schedules out of question, coming up with a consistent and the most logical plans are essential. Home-schooling and day schedules should be discussed if the children switch homes during the week, make the routines as close as possible at each household. And. I get it, that’s not easy, none of this is, but as long as you two create some sort of normalcy mixed with leniency, it will create some balance for your kids.

2. Lead by (Healthy) Example. Your feelings about your ex do not have to dictate your behavior, Be a positive example and set aside strong feelings. It may be the hardest part of learning to work cooperatively with your ex, but it’s also perhaps the most vital. 

3. Commit to an Open Dialogue with Your Ex. Arrange to do this through email, texting, voicemail, letters or through face-to -ace conversation. In the beginning, it may be hard to have a civil dialogue with your ex. There are even websites where you can upload schedules, share information, and communicate so you and your ex don’t have to directly touch base. Here are a few that I recommend: Our Family Wizard, Coparently, Cozi, and Talking Parent. Peaceful, consistent, and purposeful communication with your ex is essential to the success of co-parenting

4. Be Consistent. Rules don’t have to be exactly the same between two households, but you and your ex should establish generally consistent guidelines. They should be mutually agreed upon for both households. For example, mealtime, bedtime, and completing homework need to be consistent. This helps create a sense of belonging and creates a sense of security and predictability for children. 

5. Release the Negativity. Instead of talking negatively about your ex, commit to positive talk in both households no matter what the circumstances. With so much instability right now, positivity in your household is essential. Children want to feel safe, the negative reactions you have for one another must be kept between you two if must.

6. Agree on Discipline. Don’t give in to the guilt and try and outdo your ex by gifting you child with things, instead agree on discipline—behavioral guidelines, rewards, and consequences for raising your children so that there’s consistency in their lives, regardless of which parent they’re with at any given time. Research shows that children in homes with a unified parenting approach have greater well-being.

7. Be Flexible and Update Each Other Often. If there are changes at home, in your life, It is important that your child is never, ever, ever the primary source of information.

8. Speak in a Positive Language about Your Ex. Remember, oftentimes marriage is what was the issue, not the parenting style. Each of you has valuable strengths as a parent. Remember to recognize the different traits you and your ex have—and reinforce this awareness with your children. The repercussions of co-parenting conflict? Children exposed to conflict between co-parents are more likely to develop issues such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD.

9. Keep Conversations Kid-focused.

10. Pick and Choose Your Battles with Your Ex. Yes, discuss important decisions about school or health, but what time your child goes to bed whether at 8 p.m. in one house vs. 8:30 in another or when they take a bath in the morning or the evening is not important so try to let that go. Focus on the bigger issues. In fact, this teaches your child flexibility.

Transitions:  

  1. Be timely.

  2. Help children anticipate change. Remind the kids they’ll be leaving for the other parent’s house for a day or two before the visit. Have a visual calendar that is up and helps for the anticipation. 

  3. Pack their special stuffed toy or photograph. Some parents will have security blankets or the same stuffies at each house or one that goes between households. 

  4. The exchange should be quick and positive.

  5. When your child returns refrain from asking a lot of questions. Have a consistent activity or pre-planned activity that was on the calendar planned, so they know what to expect when they return.