Most divorcing couples will find themselves sharing parental responsibilities. The judge presiding over your divorce wants to do what is best for your children, and usually what is best for your kids involves maintaining a strong relationship with both parents.
While shared custody is what is best for the children’s mental health and social development, it can be stressful for the parents. If disagreements with your ex lead to conflict during custody exchanges, those intense emotions can have a negative impact on your kids.
Applying a few rules to your interactions with your ex can potentially reduce the stress your divorce causes for the children.
Make the kids the only topic of conversation
Your custody exchanges could turn into massive battles if you and your ex start rehashing complaints from during your marriage or talking about your personal lives. Don’t allow the conversation to veer off of topic.
Keep the focus on the kids. All you need to talk about is how things went during your time and any unusual needs the children may have during your ex’s parenting time. Keeping things short and to-the-point will reduce the possibility of conflict and prevent your children from coming to dread custody exchanges.
Agreed to share custody on special days if possible
Children benefit from having one-on-one time with each of their parents, but there are times when they want to feel strong support from both parents.
For example, during a spelling bee or a soccer game, a child would likely prefer to have both of their parents in attendance and cheering for them, rather than alternating parental attendance. If you can cooperate before those special days, it will make these events more positive for your children.
Have rules in place about communication and conflict
Inevitably, you will have to talk about something difficult, like how to address disciplinary issues with your oldest child. It can be much harder to resolve conflict when you don’t see each other frequently like you did during your marriage.
Having communication rules already in place, such as a requirement to send certain information in writing, will reduce the impact of disagreements on your relationship with one another and therefore on the children.
Thinking ahead about challenges that you will face while sharing custody can help you make the best of your new family circumstances.