A massive fear for most separating or separated parents is whether the children will be damaged by the process.
Typically, separation is a disorientating experience for all the members of the family. There are literally hundreds of practical and emotional decisions that need to be made, as well as implementing many adjustments to the living arrangements.
A co-parenting relationship is one where both parents think together about the child’s needs and make decisions together that support the child’s emotional, physical and practical needs. A co-parenting relationship is not about your ex-partner. It is about your child’s best interests and loving them above your own hurt, sadness, or resentment. A co-parenting relationship is one of the most important ingredients for children to flourish and develop well post-separation.
The greatest gift for your child
Forming a co-parenting relationship is the greatest gift you could ever give your child. It says “We are still your parents. We look after you. You are still our priority. You are still a child who should just be focusing on your schoolwork, sports, friendships, having fun and learning.” The gift here is freedom, the freedom to continue to be a child following a separation.
Good mental health
Typically, children of parents with a good co-parenting relationship remain emotionally well even if they are sad about aspects of the separation. They thrive and can settle into life with two-family units. Sadly, children do not fare as well when their parents are in continuous conflict. They are more likely to struggle with mental health issues (particularly anxiety and depression), acting out behaviours, and substance abuse.
Allow your child to dream about the future… in the present
When parents create a co-parenting relationship, a child can fantasise about a future where both parents can be in a room together celebrating life with them. This could be future birthdays, graduations, getting married and having children. When parents remain entwined in perpetual conflict or a cold war, a child cannot even imagine their future wedding day without their parents situation ruining the event. It kills the fantasy and they become anxious in the present.
Be the parent you would want to have
Stand in your child’s shoes for a moment. Your family unit is dismantling. Your future is uncertain. You do not control the separation process. If you were your child, how would you like your parents to behave at this time? You would absolutely want a co-parenting relationship to be created. You would want the right to love both parents without bitchiness and belittling of the other parent. You would want to have them model respectful communication and demonstrate good decision making. Be the best parent and co-parent for your child that you would want for yourself at this time.
Conflict takes up so much energy
Even one round of conflict with one’s ex is physically and emotionally exhausting. Typically fights leave everyone feeling depleted, unhappy, and require a period of recovery. As much as you feel entitled to your upset or rage with your ex, conflict serves no useful purpose and will only keep your nervous system jangled and your life filled with unhealthy drama.