When married, parents usually pay attention to their children's needs, and support each other in their roles. They are committed in both heart and soul, and have the willingness to give their full attention and love to creating a phenomenal family.
Once divorced, parents must look through a new lens to see how they can continue their efforts in the immense family change, parent jointly and peacefully in two separate homes, and provide a solid foundation for their child.
This can be challenging, because no matter how mentally flexible or strong you are, everyone has a breaking point, and nothing brings it out quite like divorce. Reaching this point affects your mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health, as well as your relationships with your former spouse, and children.
At the breaking point, a person can be highly pressured, overwhelmed, burnt out, over-stressed, emotionally wounded, resentful and hopeless. This can manifest in emotional conditions such as irritability, angry outbursts and sometimes even depression.
Children feel this heaviness, and can become anxious and on edge. Their spirit, self-esteem, self-worth and security can get shattered. They can start acting out, which pushes co-parents further to model questionable behaviours.
Instead of punishing your children's' behaviour, heal your own pain, which will help them out too. Work to let go, fully, of the no longer existent spouse partnership, and just remain good parents through the change. It's the parent's duty to manage their reaction to the divorce in as constructive and rehabilitative a way as possible. Co-parents need to become skillful in co-parenting in a two-home concept, and set realistic goals aimed at restoring stability and security.
Understand that in the process of co-parenting after divorce, if you can you remain good parents throughout the change, you will achieve outstanding outcomes.
Here are 10 ways to avoid a breaking point with your co-parent and remain attentive as co-parents throughout the process.
- Step out of blaming, disparaging, judgement and resentment of the other parent
- Stay child-centered and parent-partners only (let the spouse-partner relationship go)
- Create a new high quality co-parenting relationship
- Commit to mutual respect toward each other as co-parents
- Set clear and healthy boundaries
- Work on your communication skills
- Develop the ability to problem solve diplomatically (leave emotions out)
- Both be involved in decision-making
- Teamwork above all else
- Don't give up! Keep trying, even when it's difficult
This all may feel impossible from where you're standing today, but I can tell you from experience that you can make the impossible possible. There is hope.
More from Anna Giannone:
My co-parent and I have worked to stay strong and committed as co-parenting partners, which has allowed us to appreciate each other's involvement, and share responsibilities equally. It wasn't easy, but we made a conscious choice to focus solely on our parenting roles, and vowed from the start to always put our child first. This created a ripple effect in our life and our child's life as well, but it would not have been possible if we had allowed "the breaking point" to happen.
You must start to envision and develop healthy protocols in a two-home concept. If conflicts and emotions are high, I invite you to create a parenting plan with a more predictable and consistent schedule. A healthy co-parenting plan promotes respect for each parent's role, creates healthy boundaries and restructures the family in a positive way. Onward to co-parenting in harmony!
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