The Challenges of Co-parenting After Your Michigan Divorce
Raising kids is hard enough when both parents are in the same home and trying to agree on schedules, limits and discipline. It’s even harder when a divorced couple are fulfilling their responsibilities from two locations, often disagreeing on the nuts and bolts of parenting as one or more children shuttle between them.
Here are some common-sense guidelines and a few prohibitions that apply to divorced couples in Michigan (or anywhere else) who face the challenges of co-parenting while apart.
Meet Your Obligations
A divorce can involve court-directed alimony, child support and a custody order outlining visitation rules. Not meeting any of the requirements in these directives can be toxic to your co-parenting relationship. But reliability and trust in these areas goes a long way toward working together effectively.
And this means direct, frequent communication with your ex, not through the kids. You’re adults. Try to be civil and constructive as you discuss the needs of your children and how you can both improve as parents. If you’re wondering if you should call your ex about a given parenting issue, that’s probably your cue to call. They’ll appreciate a heads-up.
Don’t Badmouth the Other Parent
Any disagreements you have with your ex should be worked out in private. Don’t argue with or criticize the other parent in the presence of your kids. This can be disturbing to them, and no child wants to feel he or she has to take sides in a dispute between parents. Keep things positive.
Don’t Use the Kids as Spies
Maybe you’d just love to know about your ex’s social life, or what they’re spending money on. But don’t use your kids as plainclothes operatives to spy on your former spouse. It brings an element of secrecy and even betrayal into their relationship with the other parent.
Major in the Majors, Minor in the Minors
As with all parenting, co-parenting requires that you pick your battles. Whether dealing with your kids or your ex, there are some hills just too small to die on. If you find yourself getting worked up about a minor issue, ask yourself: Will anybody care about this next year? Next week? Tomorrow? Give more attention to the big ticket items that relate to your kids’ health and welfare, their education and their future.
Some kids of divorced parents live in a strange world of two realities. With one parent, they keep a curfew, have homework rules, don’t eat junk food and go to bed at a time certain. With the other, they sometimes stay up late eating Doritos while watching Jimmy Kimmel. Every parent will have their own style, and kids can adapt. But co-parents who are consistent on expectations, discipline and daily rhythms are making it easier for kids to make sense of life, with less worry and distraction.
Get Professional Guidance if Needed
There’s no shame in admitting you don’t have it all together (who does?) and getting some help from a family counselor or mediator. This person can help you and your ex talk through your co-parenting issues, especially in areas where you disagree, and help you map a way forward.
Too much information?
We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.