Almost every job I’ve ever had has involved working with children and adolescents. Naturally, I have had the pleasure of interacting with the parents as well. From camp counselor to middle school teacher to professional nanny, I’ve had a unique window into the challenges of parenting.
Based on my observations, parenting is hard and divorce can complicate it. Navigating life after divorce is exhausting. Although many changes occur in divorce, the parental role is a permanent role that does not change. You and your co-parent’s responsibility to your children remains constant. Remember throughout this process that your children are depending on you for their needs to be met. Assuming there is no history of abuse, co-parenting has been shown to be the most effective approach to raising well-adjusted children of divorced parents. In fact, studies have confirmed that the continued involvement of both parents could increase the financial stability of children’s environments, as well as reduce parents’ stress and mental health symptoms. If the parents are less stressed, the kids will be also.
The quality and nature of parents’ post-divorce relationships are inextricably linked with children’s emotional and behavioral well-being. If the parents’ relationship is rife with conflict, young children are at higher risk for anxiety, aggressive behavior, and poor social skills.
According to Florida State University’s Successful Co-Parenting After Divorce curriculum, there are four main co-parenting principles:
Co-parenting is not always easy, so here are a few tips to help ensure a positive experience for your children.
Most of all, remember to ask for help when you need it. Seek out counseling, family support, or community support. You are not alone.
Ferraro, A. J., Malespin, T., Oehme, K., Bruker, M., & Opel, A. (2016). Advancing co-parenting education: Toward a foundation for supporting positive post-divorce adjustment: C & A C & A. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, 33(5), 407-415. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10560-016-0440-x
Carlee Kumler is a Masters Level Intern at Lifeologie Oak Cliff who specializes in play therapy, parenting skills, and expressive arts therapy. Carlee is a former public school teacher and professional nanny. Her experience in child development can help guide you in developing healthy parenting skills.