Ten More Co-Parenting Tips
Ten More Co-Parenting Tips (part 5 of 5)
by Guest Author Elinor Robin, Ph.D. with editing by Virginia L Colin, Ph.D.
41. Children of any age may be hesitant to spend time with a parent for a variety of reasons. Both parents should encourage the child to go with the other parent at the times scheduled for that parent.
42. If you as co-parents are not united about important rules, that will confuse your child and confirm to him that he can manipulate you.
43. Make sure that your child’s friends’ parents know your co-parent and know that they can trust him/her with their child (assuming said co-parent can be relied on to keep children safe).
44. If you are a long-distance parent:
(a) Remember that your child is a digital native. If you are a digital immigrant, learn to use technology to stay connected by Skype, phone, email, text messaging, or whatever else is age-appropriate and works for the you and your kids.
(b) Watch TV “together”. Let your child know that you will be watching her favorite show and will be ready to talk with her about it.
(c) Give your child pre-addressed, stamped, big envelopes so that he can send you schoolwork and other paperwork.
(d) Make audio and video recordings for each other. Nothing to say? Record yourself reading a book and mail the book and the recording to your child.
(e) Remember small events. Send cards, pictures, and letters for Halloween, Valentine’s Day, The 4th of July, etc.
(f) Set up web cams on your computer and your kids’ computers. Use video mail, YouTube, or Google hangouts to connect.
(g) Use My-space, Facebook, or Twitter to stay in touch if you can do so safely. Remember that NOTHING you post in social media can be fully kept private.
(h) If they are old enough, make sure that your kids have cell phones with your number programmed in. Use text messages and photos to touch base often. At the same time, be respectful of the residential parent’s schedule with your child.
(i) Keep up with schoolwork. Send teachers pre-addressed, stamped envelopes so that it’s easy for them to send you updates. If you hear nothing you can initiate communications with teachers by telephone and email.
45. Befriend other divorced families that have handled the transition successfully. Invite them to be your mentors.
46. Divorce is not an event, it is a process. Allow yourself, your ex-spouse, and your children at least two years for readjustment.
47. Divorce in itself will not destroy your children. It is your reaction to the divorce that has the power to destroy their coping mechanisms. On-going conflict, emotionally unavailable parents, and parents who have regressed into boy/girl crazy adolescents can cause serious damage.
48. Don’t use your children to fill your need for companionship. If you don’t have one, GET A LIFE!! This is crucial to your (and your child’s) recovery from divorce. Seek out support from friends, family, support groups, a divorce coach. Consider entering into therapy with a licensed mental health professional. Consider joining Parents-Without-Partners, Co-dependent’s Anonymous, or a Church group for divorced/widowed persons.
49. Dissolving a marriage does not mean ending a family or ending your parenting responsibilities. In fact, while a family is undergoing the restructuring process the children need strong and caring parents more then ever. If you and/or your ex are too emotionally drained to be those parents, find temporary substitutes who can give your kids what they need.
50. Every child needs at least one loving, stable parent. It is YOUR responsibility to be that parent. If your child is lucky enough to have a third parent – a loving step-parent, rejoice. No child can have too many people love him well.
If you and your ex are having difficulty building a functional relationship as co-parents, consult with a co-parenting counselor or a family mediator.
Elinor Robin is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator and Mediation Trainer. You can learn more about her at www.AFriendlyDivorce.com and www.MediationTrainingGroup.com.
Virginia L Colin, Ph.D., is a Professional Family Mediator certified by the Virginia Supreme Court. She is not an attorney or a therapist. For a free consultation about whether family mediation would be helpful for you, contact her at mediatorQ@gmail.com or 703 864 2101.
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