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Learning to co-parent

38883717_S.jpgThe vast majority of divorces are preceded by weeks, months or even years of conflict and fighting. For this reason, it's often best for all involved parties when a couple decides to call it quits and this is especially true in cases where there are minor-aged children involved.

Despite what parents may think, even very young children are incredibly perceptive when it comes to sensing negative emotions and understanding conflict. Therefore, unhappily wed parents who vow to stay together for a child's sake actually often end up causing a child to suffer more emotional pain and harm than if they would divorce.

While a divorce can spare a child from growing up in an unhappy and hostile environment, for the benefit of a child, divorced parents must also work to change how they interact with one another post-divorce. Successful co-parenting doesn't just happen. It takes a strong commitment from both parents to set aside their own personal feelings of hurt and resentment and to put their child and his or her wellbeing first.

Building a healthy and effective co-parenting relationship isn't easy and there are bound to be some, or even many, bumps along the way to achieving this goal. The following are some things that parents who are going through or who recently divorced would be wise to keep in mind.

  • Keep things business-like - Seeing an ex in person and his or her tell-all facial expressions may be a trigger. To avoid escalations and arguments, it may be best to only communicate via email or text message. Either way, regardless of communication means, it's always best to keep things sweet, short and to the point.
  • Don't fall into old patterns - Better than anyone else, a former husband or wife knows how to push an ex's buttons. Yes, he or she can, and likely will, do and say things that are maddening and upsetting. However, one's reaction can either quickly escalate or deflate a situation. It's important, therefore to remain calm, cool and collected in the face of an ex's adversarial ways.
  • Say sorry and mean it - Contrary to what some people may believe, admitting fault and apologizing are much more mature and effective ways to deal with conflict than yelling, stonewalling or acting in a passive-aggressive manner.

Source: Huffington Post, "5 Common Post Divorce Parenting Mistakes," Hanif Virani, Feb. 19, 2016

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