Lifestyle Changes – Helping Your Child Make the Transition

Because parents love their kids, many struggle with whether they should stay married for the sake of the children or get a divorce. Studies show that divorce has the greatest negative impact on young children who are in their formative years, whereas in many cases, older children are relieved to escape an environment where parents are constantly fighting. While you might not have been able to save your marriage, you and your ex-spouse can still work together to create positive parenting relationships with your children. It’s not uncommon to hear couples say they got along far better after divorce than they ever did when they were married. Keeping both parents actively involved in their children’s lives has proven to be what is best for the children.

Co-parenting/Joint Managing Conservatorships

Co-parenting has emerged as a term to describe parenting relationships where both parents are highly involved, share responsibilities, and cooperate in the parenting process, even though they live in separate households. The type of custody in Texas for co-parenting is called a Joint Managing Conservatorship in the Texas Family Code. In fact, Texas courts presume Joint Managing Conservatorship is the best type of custody unless a party can show how it would be detrimental to the child physically or emotionally.

Situations where a co-parenting is not workable include families with a history of:

  • Domestic violence/spousal abuse
  • Child abuse
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Extreme mental illness

When a parent moves far away or refuses to participate in co-parenting, a joint managing conservatorship also does not work well.

Advantages of Co-parenting

Because your attitude and actions set an example for your children, even though you and your ex are now living in different households, you can both show your children that your love for them takes priority.

By being cooperative with each other and treating each other with respect, your children can:

  • Feel more stable and secure
  • Adapt better to a changed lifestyle
  • See role models who are solving problems, being flexible and sharing compassion for them
  • Feel less affected by the negative aspect of divorce

Golden Rules for Co-Parenting

The golden rule of treating others as you would want to be treated applies in co-parenting as much as in other areas of life. Some examples include:

  • Respect each other in front of the children
  • Resolve disagreements privately, away from the children
  • As much as possible, reach mutual agreements regarding issues before discussing them with the children
  • Do not express criticism or hostility about your ex-spouse to the children
  • Do not put the child in the middle as a relay point for communication between you and your ex-spouse
  • Be effective and clear in your communication with your ex-spouse to minimize misunderstandings

Minimize Confusion and Build Assurance for the Children

  • Both parents should let the children know the divorce was not their fault
  • Assure your children they will never be expected to choose sides, one parent over the other.
  • Explain that your goal is for both parents to be involved in their lives.
  • Both parents should tell the children that they love them.
  • Listen to the children’s upsets, anger, guilt, or fears and encourage them to communicate their feelings.
  • Let your children know what to expect—they will still go to the same school, keep the same friends, visit relatives on certain holidays, etc.
  • Even though finances may be tougher, assure them you will make ends meet.
  • Be honest about your intentions not to get back with your ex-spouse so your children do not have false hopes of reconciliation.
  • Tell your children that even though your marriage is over, you and your ex want to be on friendly terms for their sake, otherwise children may mistake the sudden friendliness as a sign that you are getting back together.

Preparing Yourself for Co-parenting

Divorce is never easy, and often couples have built up hostility towards each other that is difficult to control. If you find that you have built up so much anger that it is making a positive co-parenting relationship difficult, you probably need to find an outlet for your feelings. Getting support from friends, taking a class, reading about how others have dealt with this problem, or getting counseling through a religious group or professional counselor can all be helpful. Sometimes we need to heal ourselves in order to be a positive influence for our children.

Cooperating with Your Ex

You and your ex will need to discuss and reach agreements on a number of issues when planning parenting for your children. The more planning you have in place, the less likelihood there is for conflict over how to handle matters. You should make plans regarding education, medical, finances, discipline, and visitation schedules. It is also wise to decide on a method of dispute resolution ahead of time (mediation, collaborative law) should issues escalate into conflicts. Your lawyer can advise what would be most appropriate for your situation.

For legal help with custody issues visit the website of The Wright Firm

Related website: http://www.thewrightlawyers.com

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