Our January Divorce Salon, led by parenting experts and child specialists Alyson Jones MA RCC, Melissa Ander MEd and Rob Croezen MSW RSW, involved a rich dialogue with our participants about co-parenting issues that can arise on separation and divorce.
This month, we share five key takeaways from that evening with our wider Connect community, so that those who weren’t able to join us can benefit from the discussion.
- A parenting plan is a living, breathing document that often requires revision and updates over time. Factors that can require changes to the plan include: a child’s age or medical issues; a child’s athletic or other activities; your or your ex’s financial circumstances.
- A parenting plan brings much-needed certainty to both parents and children during a time of transition. Such certainty includes considering in advance how parents will deal with future disagreements between them – for example, will they consult with the child specialist that assisted with the plan, mediate or go to court. A successful parenting plan depends on such certainty and forethought.
- Understand and accept that you and your ex may not agree on all aspects of parenting, such as the use of technology, bed time, etc. It’s essential that one parent not denigrate the other (or their parenting) to your children. Rather, express your empathy and compassion for the challenges that can come with living in two houses with two different sets of rules. Remember that difficult situations can actually help children develop resilience and other important life skills.
- If a child is resisting going to the other parent’s house, this does not necessarily mean something terrible is happening at that parent's home. Resistance to transition is natural, just like some adults will resist attending an event or going away for the weekend if they are feeling comfortable at home.
- Be aware of and manage your own thoughts and feelings. Even when a parent says the right things, a child will notice and pay attention to the parent’s underlying anxiety or stress instead of listening to the parent’s words. If you learn emotional regulation skills, such as breathing and mindfulness, this will not only help you relax, it can in turn calm your children.