Embrace co-parenting with grace

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image courtesy of Kaylani

When parents opt to separate or divorce, one of the biggest challenges is deciding on how they will co parent their children.

Separation and divorce come with hating your former significant other and being bitter. Sometimes one party will want to execute revenge on the other by making children side with them and dislike the other party., especially if the other party has moved on to another relationship.

Often, we see glamorous blended families on social media and we think it’s a simple thing. Co parenting is not easy especially when one party has moved on and found love again. It requires a lot of patience, therapy and repressing feelings of hatred, jealousy and bitterness towards the other and putting the welfare of the child first. Easier said than done. As Kenyans say ”vitu kwa ground ni different”, meaning, things on the ground are different.

We do not know what blended families go through during transitioning. Every family has different experiences, some are smooth and some are so rough that sometimes it affects the mental health of some parents. Children also get affected by separation or divorce of their parents.

Below are helpful strategies that will help in co parenting for separated and divorced parents:

1.Good Communication

When parents communicate clearly, they get a lot of parenting work done efficiently. When communication is filled with emotions and blame games, then that is a bad sign. To avoid emotional communication, both partners should decide what form of communication they should use, either email or texts, and also decide to only talk about the children to avoid unnecessary fights.

2.Live in the present

Living in the present means you should try as much as possible to stop living in the past, when you were both together. Some things from the past will remain through co parenting relationship, but parents benefit by moving on and focusing on how they can make co parenting more effective for their children.

3.Do not triangulate

Triangulation is when unresolved issues between parents are passed on through interactions with the children. The children get to suck in parent’s hostility and tension and they start practising the same. This can be very difficult, but all parties getting therapy will help. The child or children will also benefit from therapy.

4.Create Boundaries

Many families have different rules at different houses for their children. When parents define these rules clearly for the children, the children will not have struggle manipulating the rules to get their way.  Clear communication of what is expected from each house can go a long way towards creating balance and stability.

5.Let go of the past

One thing that troubles a lot of parents is continually holding on grudges and being vindictive towards one another. In order to co parent effectively parents need to let go of the past, forgive each other and wish the best for one another.

6.Join a support group

Joining a support group where parents share their co-parenting experiences will definitely help parents who feel alone. Also, having a trusted therapist or counsellor who will help you look at your blind spots can make a tremendous difference.

7.Learn to compromise

When parents are constantly arguing about not having time, or what rules are in place, then it can cause a very bad environment for the children. Parents who learn to work together and compromise when it comes to their children, in the end, will create a stable environment for them.

8.Talk to your Children

When a parent has worries about potential negative influence that their ex can have on their children, the best remedy is talking to their children. It helps to iron out any confusing or conflicting messages they hear from the other parent.

9.Be open with your children

Open up to your child, tell them what you are passionate about, what you do, what motivates you. Children who are aware of their parents’ passions tend to follow their own.

10.Do not pursue a distant child

Children who get affected by parent’s separation and divorce sometimes become distant to either one parent or both. When you chase after the child or rather get desperate for their attention, they will distance more. The best approach s to attract their interest to connect with you. Try making ways and connections that are special for every child, like having special dates, where you can interact with them on personal level. If you have let’s say two children, create special dates for each one of them.