It can be very difficult to transition into a co-parenting role after a separation. The best way to navigate this new territory is to create a plan and stick to it. In terms of general advice for what to do and what to avoid regarding parenting children after separation and what should be addressed in a comprehensive parenting plan, we advise as follows:
Parents should never engage in a dispute in front of the children. If that is difficult, keep communication to a minimum (hello, how are you, have a nice day, goodbye). If necessary, do not speak at all and deal with exchanges through school, child care or curbside.
Parents should encourage children to love the other parent and reassure children that the other parent loves them. Parents should not speak negatively about the other to or in front of the children and should not allow third parties to do so. Children thrive with the love and support of both parents. When children sense negativity from one parent to another, it is natural for them to either defend the one being attacked (outright or internally) or for them to align with the attacking parent. Either way, they end up feeling caught in a loyalty bind, torn and as though there is something wrong with them. Depending on their age and stage of development, children view themselves as part of both of their parents so if one parent is dreadful or unlovable, the child (by extension) often feel dreadful or unlovable.
Children should never be used as a weapon. Both parents should encourage children to have a strong and meaningful relationship with the other parent. Parenting time should be encouraged and fostered, not withheld. The time children spend with another parent should be respected, not disrupted.
Parents should ensure they communicate directly with one another instead of using the children to impart messages back-and-forth or relay information. Even when children are relaying uncontentious information or messages between parents they end up feeling torn.
It is best for children if there is consistency between homes. Whether children are moving back and forth in a shared parenting regime or just spending every other weekend with their mother or father, it is preferable for them to be faced with similar schedules, rules, expectations, chores and discipline procedures from each parent. It is enough for children to adjust and transition between homes, parents, and belongings. Consistency in the central dealings at each home leads children to feel a sense of security, stability and unity as opposed to feeling as though they are living two completely separate lives.
If you are going through a separation let us help! Choose the dispute resolution process you prefer: mediation, mediation/arbitration or arbitration. Regardless of the process selected, we walk you through it step-by-step catering to people who choose not to retain lawyers.