Tips for Successful Co-Parenting
Not all that long ago, when a couple with children got divorced, children generally lived with their mother after the divorce. Many fathers did not get much time with their children and did not often remain terribly involved in their children’s lives. Today, there are countless ways for families to exist, including a number of arrangements that include divorced parents. A child who splits time between each parent’s house is no longer unusual.
If you are an unmarried or divorced parent, it can be challenging to make the most of the time you get with your child. There are, however, some things you can do to facilitate effective co-parenting.
Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
It is not uncommon for unhappy parents to stay together because of concerns regarding their children. They may be worried about going even a few days without their children, and many fear that their children will feel abandoned and unloved. Such fears—while understandable—can be addressed, and a co-parenting arrangement can be positive for everyone involved.
One of the first things you may need to do is to change your thinking about parent-child relationships. This is especially true if the other parent has more parenting time than you do. Equal parenting time is not necessary for you to have a healthy relationship with your child. It is important to take the time that you do have and use it for something meaningful. Use the time to get to know your child better and maintain open lines of communication. You may even realize that having less time helps you focus on what is really important.
Structure and Consistency
A divorce or parental breakup will cause a great deal of change for everyone involved, including the children. Your children may be living in a different home, attending a different school, and spending separate time with each parent for the first time ever. With so much uncertainty, a consistent schedule can help your children adapt more quickly. If you can, work with the other parent to make your routines similar. For example, the same rules regarding when homework must be done should apply in both homes. Keeping consistent bedtimes and wake-up times is also beneficial for children.
New Forms of Interaction
Until quite recently, a parent had limited options for communicating or interacting with his or her child during the other parent’s parenting time. Today, those options have increased dramatically, especially for children who are older and have their own cell phones. Text messages, video chat, and even online games can allow parents and children to strengthen their relationships without even needing to be in the same room.
We Can Help
If you are considering a divorce and have questions about setting up a workable co-parenting arrangement, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential initial consultation today.