Recently, there has been a surge in interest in the positive impact shared parenting can have on children following divorce or separation.
In the first eight months of 2014, three different child development organizations produced reports showing that shared parenting can help nullify the negative outcomes associated with single parenting.
Then last month, the National Parents Organization released its Shared Parenting Report Card, which ranked each state based on its child custody statutes and how they promote shared parenting following divorce or separation.
NPO founder and chairman Ned Holstein recently visited with DadsDivorce Live about the report’s findings. Only 17 percent of children of separated or divorced parents have shared parenting, and unfortunately, the NPO report gave poor grades to the vast majority of states.
But even if both separated or divorced parents are committed to sharing custody of their child, there are many challenges. Here are a few tips to working with your ex in a shared-parenting scenario while keeping the best interests of your child in mind.
Figure out the best way to communicate and coordinate with your ex.
You and your ex are going to have to communicate frequently in order to keep your schedules organized. If your relationship is an amicable one, this might not be an issue.
But if you aren’t on good terms, you might need to find an alternative way to communicate so you’re not constantly having to talk, and potentially argue, with your ex.
Utilize technology. Maybe texting or emailing is a more appropriate means to touch base on who is responsible for what.
You can also look into using a cloud-based program that allows you to share schedules and calendars conveniently without directly speaking.
Be supportive of your child’s relationship with your former spouse.
This might require you to swallow some pride if you harbor resentment toward your ex, but it’s for the good of your child to have a positive relationship with both parents.
Don’t badmouth your ex in front of your child, no matter how tempting it might be to do so. And be as cooperative as possible with your ex to maintain a fair schedule. Remember, this isn’t about either of you, but your child.
Agree on a unified approach to household rules.
It’s crucial for your child’s health to have a sense of routine and structure. They need consistency when it comes to rules about homework and chores, meal times, and bed times.
Try to come up with a list of rules that you and your ex will both have your child adhere to.
Control what you can control.
It’s possible your ex is completely uncooperative in working to establish a consistent and fair co-parenting plan. If you find yourself in that situation, don’t lash out. That will only make things worse.
Focus on what you can control. Make sure you have your parenting schedule in writing and stick to it. And make the most of the time you have with your child by making sure they have a stable environment with at least one parent.
Again, try to avoid exposing your child to parenting conflicts. Bringing them into the argument isn’t healthy and could backfire on you.
Remember, your child is your top priority. Every decision you make should be with their best interest in mind.