For parents, divorce can be a particularly stressful life event. Not only has your relationship changed drastically, maybe even unexpectedly, but now you have a whole new set of questions to consider: How do I explain what happened in a way my kids will understand? How do I make sure my kids follow my rules? What if the rules are different at my ex’s house? How do I let them know that everything will be ok when I don’t even know what’s going to happen? Though they are uncomfortable, these are important questions to ask, and having a plan can help to reduce the anxiety associated with them.
Co-parenting is the term used to describe the situation when two parents share parenting responsibility while living in separate households. It typically works best when both parents commit to communicating well (and often) about their children while maintaining similar expectations about behaviors and responsibilities. Often, however, especially after a messy divorce, the idea of continuing to communicate with an ex-partner can seem like an insurmountable challenge.
Co-parenting can be particularly difficult for newly divorced or separated couples because none of the communication problems the couple was having before the split go away just because they are no longer living together. It is most helpful if separated parents can put their own issues aside while working to coordinate with their ex-partner, especially while working together in front of the children. Not only are parents setting an example for them, but it will also make the transition much easier if both parents work together to set appropriate boundaries and expectations.
Imagine if after you split up, you were able to talk to your ex-partner about your children and not worry about whether you were going to fight. You could have common goals and expectations for your children and you both could focus on those long enough to have a productive discussion and avoid messy conflict. You could be informed about anything important that happened while your children were not staying with you, anything the school called your ex about, but didn’t tell you too, and you could stay on top of important commitments and appointments by working collaboratively.
In therapy, I work with parents individually and together to help improve communication patterns so that conflict can be better managed. Once parents have learned to talk and listen without fighting, we can begin the collaborative work of setting boundaries and expectations that the children will be expected to adhere to. Likewise, systems will be developed that allow the parents to communicate directly whenever something unexpected happens.
Sometimes it is difficult for a parent to get his or her ex-partner (and other caregivers) to come to therapy together. In these cases, it is often beneficial for one party to come in and work on things alone to begin. In many circumstances like this, only one person knowing how to effectively communicate can often diminish barriers enough to make some progress toward effective co-parenting.
Once communication has been improved, I help parents create systems in which their children can get used to their new environments and expectations and begin to thrive. The process of separation can be difficult on children, but intentionally setting up consistency across settings can help them adjust more easily and quickly, and that work must be done collaboratively between parents. Next, I help parents and children develop the skills necessary to effectively deal with the set changes, including parenting and coping skills. I offer a variety of interventions and strategies that have helped parents with children of all ages.
There are many changes involved in splitting up, but a parent’s responsibilities remain the same. In order to help their children make a successful transition, adults can learn new skills and use evidence-based practices that make the seemingly impossible become quite manageable. To schedule an appointment, Click here to book an appointment now!
1001 S 70th St, Ste 225
Lincoln, NE 68510