Quick Tips for Co-Parenting
You’ve already done the work understanding that separation was necessary in your marriage, but parenting ties you to your ex-partner. The process of ironing out all the kinks to make the arrangement agreeable and workable in both your lives is not an overnight process. Practical solutions don’t always lead to rational emotions, especially if your co-parenting partner has the proclivity to be high-conflict in disagreements. Each partner and child are different, but here are some quick tips for those working through a stressful co-parenting arrangement:
A keystone to effective dispute resolution is that solutions found by the parties are more likely to be adhered to. Often with high-conflict parenting, court seems like the only option. Is there a collaborative law process that could help your family? In some cases, parties may not know their options and may be unaware that court is more costly and time consuming than mediation or arbitration. Another benefit of collaborative process is that the parents have more control, and can custom fit their parenting plan. With the guidance of a neutral third party, a parenting plan that covers the big concerns of your children’s future and comfort can be put at the forefront.
Keep the Kids Out of Litigation
The statistics suggest that children who have been through a high-conflict divorce can suffer long term emotional effects. Most lawyers and psychologist suggest explaining the situation to the children, but keeping them out of the process. It’s never productive to talk negatively, or air your grievances about your co-parent, with your children. Creating a boundary between you and your co-parent may be necessary for yourself but also, a positive approach will also create an atmosphere of trust and comfort for a child.
Services for Pickup and Drop-off
The pick up or drop off of children can be a contentious issue between parents. If available, parents should opt to drop children off at the parents, to avoid a packing frenzy, or cutting off a moment between parent and child. However, sometimes this is not an option. The Calgary YMCA offers supervised child exchange in which the parents can enter separately, and leave without seeing each other. They also offer supervised visits for parents with court dictated visitation. One tip we recommend is to plan a quiet activity for the initial stages of your visitation as this will give them time to settle in to their environment. Creating a calm environment can set a positive tone for your time with them and make pick ups and drop offs less stressful. It’s also important to keep in mind that prying a child for information about the other parent during pick up time is a huge no-no!
In recent years, family scheduling has shifted from a calendar on the wall to an app in your phone. At Jones Divorce and Family Law we recommend My Family Wizard, an app that that take the stress out of co-parenting with a difficult partner. No longer will instructions and dates be lost in a long email thread: the app is a messaging system, calendar and documents can be uploaded and shared directly. If you are both fairly organized, something simple like a shared Google calendar might also be helpful. Using these online applications can keep the conversations high-level, and ensure the children aren’t used as messengers.
Considering stress release for yourself and your children can be vital in a high conflict situation. Do you have a high stress level when separated from your children? It might be beneficial to talk to a professional like a counselor when transitional times become overwhelming. Other options on how to quickly relieve stress such as calling a friend, going for a walk or unwinding may help as well. If reaching out in your own circle isn’t available to you there are many blogs, articles and books written concerning co-parenting strategies. Take a look through our online resources, which are available to everyone. It may help with stress management to read stories and techniques of how others dealt with the stress.
Are you tackling a co-parenting conflict right now? Contact us to book a consultation with one of the lawyers at Jones Divorce and Family Law today.