|Posted by Sarah I. Malik on October 5, 2018 at 11:55 PM|
We have all heard the phrase, "It's the Little Things in Life." And no phrase could be more true than a child with two parents in two different homes. When it comes to co-parenting, and really all kinds of parenting, the little things go a long way in offering stability, happiness and peace to a child. For co-parents, that means getting along (at least on surface level) for your child. Below are a few simple tips to help any and all parenting relationships:
Smooth Transitions - One of the few times that a child of separated parents sees his parents together is during custody transitions. Be cordial and even kind to one another during this time. Your kids are watching. Say "Hello" and "How Are You?" Look them in the eyes. Exchange bags without any aggression or be helpful in walking the bags to the car or door. If it was a holiday or the other person's birthday, wish them well. These small fleeting moments will put the child at ease and help take any burden off of the child to think that they are at fault for their separation and their troubles (which is a common feeling for a child to have in this circumstance).
Cooperate with School - When it comes to school, have a united front. Share information about any progress you receive from the teacher with the other parent. Try your best to attend parent/teacher conferences together and work together in trying to address social or academic issues. Inform each other of school events in case the other may have forgotten or did not know about it. Show up and sit near each other for school events, especially if your child is performing or presenting. Nothing will make a child's heart lighten more than seeing his or her smiling parents near one another. Finally, do not, I repeat, do not ever confront the other parent about anything related to the child or the divorce/separation on school property. School is often a safe place for a child and allows him or her to escape some of their troubles or worries at home. Bringing it to school will not benefit the child in any way.
Birthdays - Do not make the child's birthday about you. Focus on the child and, if practicable, enjoy a moment together with the birthday kid and the other parent. This can include a quick visit to get ice cream on his birthday or presenting a joint gift. For kids of separated parents, there could be no greater gift than seeing your parents getting along on your birthday.
Encourage phone calls - When you are with your son or daughter, encourage him or her to call or text the other parent even for a minute. This will re-affirm to the child that you appreciate the child's relationship with the other parent and that you will do anything to support it. If you missed a call on your phone from the other parent, make sure to return the call.
Never discuss the separation or divorce issues - This may seem obvious but is one that is broken by nearly all co-parents. Bringing up, even in passing, a frustration or issue with child support or the residential schedule (or even something related to property or alimony) will only put the child in an uncomfortable position or add more confusion to his life. Whether they are articulating it or not, a child in the middle of a separation is dealing with quite a bit: changes in homes, emotional instability and possibly sadness. Do not put more on the child's plate.
The common theme of the tips above is stepping outside of yourself and doing what is best for your child. There is a time and place to be upset with or tough on your ex. In front of the child is never the right place. Children of separation or divorce are going through hard transitions and providing them with opportunities to see their parents being kind, civil and even gracious to one another will go a long way for the child's mental well-being.