In the midst of a bitter custody battle, the person who ends up the most hurt is usually not the parents at all, but the child. It seems obvious, but many forget that it is so important that your child not suffer just because you and the other parent dislike each other or are unable to communicate. It is important that both parents make a supreme effort to not place your child in the middle. Here are some tips that we have found to be helpful for our clients in difficult co-parenting situations:
1. Actually encourage a healthy relationship between your child and the other parent. (Believe it or not, this helps you in the long run.) It is so important that your child have a relationship with both parents – suggest fun activities for both your child and the other parent to do together.
2. ALWAYS keep the other parent informed of any and all appointments and extracurricular activities that your child has planned. An electronic calendar in which you both have access can help alleviate some of the stress. Contact us if you need any suggestions!
3. NEVER belittle or argue with the other parent in front of your child. Kids hear everything and it isn’t fair to give your child a negative image of their other parent.
4. Allow and encourage phone calls/video chat between your child and the other parent.
5. Try planning important events (birthday parties, graduation celebrations) so that the other parent is able to attend. You don’t have to sit with the other parent or entertain him or her—this is about your child, not the parents!
Co-parenting is never easy. It takes effort from both parents—sometimes a lot of it. Just remember you and the other parent have at least one thing in common – the love you share for your child. Build a relationship around that and make your child’s health and stability the center to ensure your child grows up happy and balanced.