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Teen Tips on Parenting After Separation or Divorce

The most important thing to remember about parenting after parting is that if you are ok with each other then your children will be ok too.  It can be extremely difficult to negotiate shared custody arrangements and make decisions about the wellbeing of children with someone you would really like to move away from.  However, your children love and need both of you and they have a right to be allowed to spend time with both of you.  

If you can develop a relationship with one another that recognises that you both have an equally important role in your children’s lives and that it is in their best interest for you to show each other respect by working together you help them to:-

 

Feel secure

When confident of the love of both parents, children adjust more quickly to divorce and have better self-esteem.

 

Benefit from consistency

Co-parenting fosters similar rules, discipline, and rewards between households, so children know what to expect, and what’s expected of them and as a result they feel safer.

 

Better understanding of problem solving

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

 

Have a healthy example to follow

By cooperating with the other parent, you are establishing a life pattern your children can carry into the future.

 

Where a relationship has become deeply embittered it can be easy to use children as a vehicle to hurt one another.  When we do this we cause them immense distress and may affect their ability to form and maintain healthy relationships as they reach adulthood.

At some level you have to decide whether you hate your ex partner more than you love your children.   

The fact that you have children together means that you are bound to one another for life.  In the early days of parting it is normal to feel a range of intense emotions but these will pass and long after the hurt of parting has faded you will have to co-parent.  The less damage that is done in these early days the easier the future will be for you and, more importantly, for your children.

Many children think that the breakdown of your relationship is their fault.  Explain that it isn’t without blaming your partner. When we do this they realise that they are more important than the conflict that ended your relationship.  It also stops them thinking that they have the power/responsibility to “fix” your relationship.

 

Here are a few rules that others have agreed upon and found helpful in helping them parent after parting:-

  1. Allow and encourage your children to love your ex partner
  2. Encourage them to spend time with both of you
  3. Explain to them that your parting is not their fault
  4. Talk about your ex partner with respect
  5. Don’t argue in front of them
  6. Do not ask your children to take sides
  7. Do not ask your children to be the messenger between you.
  8. Never give your children the message that they have to choose between you
  9. Do not expect your children to take care of you – find support elsewhere to help you deal with your feelings
  10. Recognise that school plays a stabilising role whilst home is changing – inform the school of what is going on.
  11. Be flexible where it is in the best interest of the children.

 

You may never like your ex but if you can treat them with respect – as you would a business partner with whom you share a valuable asset – you help your children feel secure.  Your ex will push your buttons and you theirs – maintain your dignity for the sake of your children.

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