How to co-parent your children after divorce – and fix your broken family

Divorce is often painful – and when children are involved it can be hard to put hurt feelings aside. Read how to co-parent your children after divorce – and fix your broken family.

While nearly half of all marriages may end in divorce, separating from your partner doesn’t have to mean a toxic and painful separation of your family.

Handled carefully and respectfully, couples can navigate the breakdown of their marriage or relationship, while retaining a relationship as co-parents of children who are loved equally by both.

Here’s some advice to help you work through your split and keep your family together.

1) Co-parent

Over the past few years, a new perspective of what life after divorce or separation can look like has evolved. Co-parenting aims at the idea of togetherness while living in separate households. Cable TV has played a big role on bringing this new dynamic to light (think Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick on E!’s hit show Keeping Up with the Kardashians).

More couples are taking on this approach and it seems to be bringing positive results.

In essence, co-parenting removes the husband and wife relationship and concentrates on the mutual love for the family. By allowing your love for your family to be the driving force post-divorce, unity can be accomplished.

But, as we know all these things take time. It may take some time to work through the pain of your split to reach this point, but it’s certainly achievable if both of you are committed to it, and are prepare to work through and put aside your personal pain for the greater good of your family.

2) Establish ground rules

When our idea of what we think love should look like (blissful marriage, white picket fence, etc) goes out the window, fear can kick in.

It’s hard to move on when we are grieving loss. And even if you were desperately unhappy in your relationship, and the instigator of your split, you can still need to grieve the loss of your hopes and dreams of a happy ever after that didn’t manifest.

An unknown future, and risk of losing even more can also fuel fear. What if your partner applies for custody? What if they meet someone else? What if your children prefer to spend more time with them? What if they don’t parent them according to your values?

To alleviate your fears, and prevent them from causing friction between you and your ex-partner, it’s important to establish post-divorce ground rules. Setting a few rules to help establish boundaries and communicate these fears are essential to building a co-parenting relationship.

3) Lean on communication tools

It may be too painful to see or even speak to your ex immediately post-divorce. Luckily, there are many ways to stay connected without having to be in the same room as them.

If emotions are still high, it can also be healthier not to have to immediately respond to your partner. Waiting to reply to an email or text can give you time to calm down, or get a second (more emotionally detached) opinion on a message that you are interpreting in a negative light. This will prevent exchanges quickly igniting into bitter rows.

If you haven’t already, why not create a messaging group in which you can arrange custody visits, send each other videos or pictures of what the kids did when not with the other parent.

Live streams on Instagram and Facebook also mean that don’t have to miss out on big, important moments in your children’s lives too, even if you’re not physically with them at the time. It even means you can say goodnight to them at night if you want.

4) Be patient

Forming a new relationship with your ex, and establishing a new family dynamic won’t happen overnight. So be patient. And remember, as tempting as it can be to respond to inflammatory comments or retaliate to selfish acts by your partner, it’s much more rewarding in the long term to look for ways to build bridges than get revenge (as satisfying as a may feel in the moment)!

And with effort and respect on both sides, you and your partner can work through this transitionary time to build a new relationship as co-parents of happy, adjusted, confident and equally loved children.

Read more divorce tips

Whether you have children or not, getting divorced can be an incredibly difficult time. To help you work through it you’ll find more advice in these articles:

Photo by Juliane Liebermann