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The ending of a relationship is difficult to navigate in almost any situation, but having children together complicates it even further. Ideally, barring serious issues like substance abuse or domestic violence, both parents play an active role in their children’s lives. Research indicates that the quality of the relationship between parents, whether together or divorced, has a strong influence on the mental well-being of children. Positive co-parenting can be difficult, so I’ve included a few tips and tricks for working together to make your children’s lives the best they can be.
1) Make it about the kids, not about emotion. It is easy after the ending of a relationship to let your emotions get the best of you. However, if you can approach working with your former partner from a less emotional perspective, it will be easier to co-parent in the long run. So, how do we control these overwhelming emotions? Using mindfulness to be present in the moment can help, as can paced breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. Ground yourself before you answer a phone call or before you meet with your fellow co-parent. Viewing your former partner as your child’s parent rather than your ex may be helpful. You might even give yourself a positive affirmation such as “I can control my emotions; my emotions do not control me” or “I am doing this for my kids.”.
2) Don’t let your children hear you speaking ill of the other parent. This goes for stepparents, too! Don’t put your children in the middle of your grown-up problems. Don’t bad mouth your former partner or their current partner or spouse. This only causes undue stress for the children and makes them think they have to take sides. Instead, speak positively about the other parent. If something pops up, that is questionable, speak with the other parent about it out of earshot from the children. Refer to the other parent as “your dad” or “your mother” rather than referring to the parent by name.
3) Form a united front. You know your children best, and you likely know they need structure to thrive. If at all possible, co-parent in such a way that your children know they cannot pit you against each other. Setting standard rules for both houses can help as well as having family traditions such as a biweekly dinner or fun event to show that the two of you can be in the same room and are working together.
4) Ask for help if you need it! Lots of parents have been through co-parenting struggles before. Reach out for advice, look for a support group, or get into therapy. Therapy isn’t just for couples struggling with marital or relationship issues; it can be great for improved co-parenting even after the relationship has ended.
If you are interested in setting up an appointment for therapy involving co-parenting, reach out to us at 931-805-5780.

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Clarksville, TN 37040

(931) 908-8808

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