Co-Parenting Communication: Avoid Breakdowns

“Communication is key.” You’ve probably heard this piece of advice as you begin to transition into your role as a co-parent. However, communication is almost always easier said than done. Furthermore, it can be hard to keep that communication with your ex open, especially if you reached a bitter end. Due to these reasons, amongst others, we’ve put together some strategies to keep co-parenting communication from breaking down.

Co-Parenting Communication: Healthy Arrangements 

Don’t Play The Blame Game

“He said/she said” or “He/she started it” arguments are a quick way to see your communication with your ex turn south. If your ex says something mean or nasty to you, it might be tempting to answer with something rude too. They started it, right? But what is more important: being “right” or not being miserable?

Instead of engaging, just ignore those comments that are trying to get under your skin. Keeping your actions and communication positive will let you set the tone of your conversations. It can also make your ex reconsider how they may have been acting, and lead to them making efforts to be positive when you communicate as co-parents.

Learn to Compromise

You and your ex might not agree on everything when it comes to co-parenting. Maybe you think your child should do their homework right when they get home, and maybe your ex thinks they should do it after dinner. Both of you have your reasons for why you think your way is the “best”. A great way to avoid this disagreement becoming an argument over who’s right, is to learn to compromise.

There is no “right” way to parent; everyone has different approaches. You can have your child do their homework right after school when they’re with you, and your ex can have them do it right after dinner at their place. Either way, the homework is getting done, and you avoid a potential argument. For bigger matters, like say planning for the holidays, keep it calm and try to put things in writing. That gives you time to gather your thoughts before your respond. If you lay everything out logically, then you and your ex can pick the solution that is best for everyone.

Be Direct

The best way to avoid misunderstandings between you and your ex is to be direct. Having other people rely messages can turn co-parenting communication into an out-of-hand game of telephone. It’s also important to avoid using your child as a go-between. They’re adjusting to their new situation just like you. Asking them to deliver messages can make them feel trapped and as if they have to “pick a side” between you and your ex. Instead, use phone calls and texts when face-to-face communication isn’t an option.

Unexpected Divorce: My Spouse is Gay

It happens a lot. During a marriage, sometimes a spouse will reveal that they are interested in other people. Sometimes, however, these other people are of the same gender as they are. For straight couples, this is probably a huge shock. But what does your spouse coming out mean for you and your family? Let’s discuss some common questions and reasons for an unexpected divorce. 

Unexpected Divorce: My Spouse is Gay

Do we stay married?

The choice is up to you. Some may enter this chapter in their relationship with a new understanding of each other. Others may chose an unexpected divorce. Whatever you decide is right for you is the right choice. Coming out doesn’t always lead to an immediate separation. A marriage means a lot of intertwined parts, and a divorce might not be the easiest or best option.

If we stay married, then what?

If you both decide to avoid that unexpected divorce and stay married instead, your spouse may ask for an open relationship. An open relationship requires more communication and honesty. Each open relationship is different; no two look the same. Some of them are completely open. Others are open to particular people. Coming out takes a lot of trust, but so do open relationships. Make sure you and your partner feel comfortable with your relationships at all points.

Not sure about what you want?

Much like the coming out decision that your spouse made, your next move might take time. Choosing an unexpected divorce, especially very quickly, you might not be making the right choice for you. Your emotions are on high-alert. Take time to fully feel through these emotions before making any permanent decisions.

Nothing You Did

No matter what, you cannot change a person’s sexual orientation. If your spouse coming out is a surprise for you, do not feel discouraged. You are valid and perfect as you are. There might be a difficult acceptance period. It might be a good idea for you to seek help or therapy.

Mixed orientation couples are more common than the average person might realize. Coming out happens at all stages of life. For some, that might be after they’ve entered a heterosexual marriage. Also remember that coming out does not mean the couples are out of love. ​​​It also doesn’t mean that you will absolutely be getting that unexpected divorce we discussed. Every marriage is different and you should do what feels right to you. 

Divorcing During Pregnancy: Avoiding Stress

Getting married and bringing children into the world should be some of the happiest times in a person’s life. However, things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes, the unexpected becomes your reality. In the event that you’re divorcing during pregnancy, you’ll have a lot on your plate.

Now, instead of just facing divorce, you’re also trying to reduce stress for your unborn child. Often times, it can be difficult to figure out where to start, and how to go about this in the most stress-free way possible…

Divorcing During Pregnancy: Achieving a Stress-Free Separation

Understand the Law

​The first thing you need to do in any divorce, is to understand what the law says. Every state is a little bit different, and will change your options by some degree. So, make sure you’re reading the right laws for your state.

Furthermore, speaking with an attorney can make this process a lot easier, and removes that ‘legalese’ language. Some states even hinder your options when it comes to divorcing during pregnancy, and will make you wait, or just file for a separation. Understanding your options makes it easier to plan accordingly.

Talk to Your Spouse

With most divorcing couples, communication is a pretty big issue. But, it’s a pretty large part of the process, especially when it comes to divorcing during pregnancy. You’ll need to discuss both parent’s intention when it comes to custody arrangements, and how involved they hope to be. Unfortunately, even before your child is born, you’ll want to begin discussing visitation and support agreements. 

Taking these steps will ensure you can have these all handled in the initial divorce agreement. If not, then it can be a costly and difficult process to go back to court to get orders for them. It might be hard, but doing these things now makes it easier on you and your spouse in the long run.

Build Your Support Group

Before your child is even born, you know that you will be a single parent. This wasn’t your plan from the beginning, which can make this fact all the more jarring and frightening. Having a support group is important to help deal with the feelings of isolation and stress that are natural to any parent, but especially a single one. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family for support.

Odds are, they’ll be more than happy to help you. You can also look for single parent support groups. Not only do these groups offer great programs to help you adjust, they are also full of people who know exactly what you are going through. Knowing that you don’t have to face this challenge alone can help make this difficult time a little bit easier to handle.

There’s no denying that this is a difficult, frightening, and stressful time for many reasons…

But, there are steps you can take to be more informed, supported, and ready to divorce during pregnancy. Furthermore, getting prepared to move into single parenthood and co-parenting. Taking cues from these tips here can help make this stressful process a doable one for both you and your baby’s sake.

The Four Co-parenting C’s

There are plenty of mistakes that every co-parent will make. After all, we’re all new to this at some point in time, and there are always growing pains. The key to being a good co-parent, is keeping a few key goals in mind. From communication, to compromise, and beyond— the Four Co-parenting C’s are something every divorced parent must observe, and perfect, to become the co-parent we all want to be. No one said it’s easy, but it’s undeniably worth it.

The Four Co-parenting C’s to Perfect for Your Kids 

Cooperation

When it comes to mastering co-parenting, cooperation is at the center of it all. While you two divorced for a reason, you also have to find ways to put that aside for your children. You’ll have to manage school, appointments, birthday parties, family gatherings, sick days, pick-up and drop-off, and many manyother things as a unit. The key to successful cooperation, is to plan ahead of time— but also be flexible. The more committed you are to cooperating for your kids, the more likely you are to be successful at it.

Compromise

One of the most difficult things to do as a divorced parent, and co-parent, is to compromise with your former spouse. No matter how hard we try, it’s extremely easy to be spiteful when it comes to your ex, even when kids are involved. But, as a parent, you always have to imagine if the shoe was on the other foot. Maybe this weekend was supposed to be yours, but your former spouse’s mother has fallen extremely ill. Your ex asks if you will let the child spend the weekend with them so they can visit in the hospital. 

While your instinct might be to say no out of spite, consider if it was the other way around. Your mother is ill, she might pass, and you want your child to be able to say goodbye. By giving a little in the right moments, you and your former spouse might be able to form a new kind of respect, and become better co-parents in the long run.

Consistency

As we’ve mentioned, there will always be growing pains as you learn how to co-parent outside of a marriage, but consistency is key. By maintaining routines for your child from one household to the other, you give them a sense of security that might have been wavering after the separation. By setting uniform expectations, you make things easier for your children. Not to mention, you also avoid that infamous “but, Mom/Dad lets me…”

Communication

We always save this one for last because it’s the most important, and the most difficult to master. Chances are, your inability to communicate with one another played at least a small part in your divorce. So, how are we supposed to get better at it now? Quite simply put, because you have to. In communicating effectively, you set a strong example for your children and avoid conflict. Conduct yourselves in a business-like fashion because, after all, you’re colleagues in the business of raising your children. So, be courteous to the co-parent as if they are a co-worker.

As you consider the Four Co-parenting C’s, you might begin to discover what you’ve been excelling at. Furthermore, you might also discover what you need to work on. Every parent, whether divorced or together, can inevitably improve their tactics in one way or another— and there’s no shame in saying it. However, there is admirability in admitting your faults and improving upon them.

Child Communication During Divorce

Child communication can be difficult during a divorce, as most children tend to clam up. From your end, it might’ve been hard enough bringing up the divorce to them. So how do you offer support to them when they seemingly don’t want to talk? As it turns out, there are some key ways in which you can help give that extra support…

Child Communication: Offering Support

Be willing to talk

An important part of good child communication is to let them know you’re willing to talk. For many kids, they tend to think that you’ll be dealing with a lot already. As a result, they don’t think that their own feelings are important. That’s why it’s important to make them feel comfortable sharing by being willing to talk to them.

A good way to do this is to be open about your own emotions in an age-appropriate way. For example, you could tell them that you feel a bit sad too, but you know things will be alright, and then ask them how they’re feeling too. That way, they’ll feel reassured that things will be okay, and that you’re interested in how they feel.

Listen to them

Another important part of good child communication is listening to what they have to say. It’s one thing to get your child comfortable enough to open up to you. However, if they feel like you’re not really listening to them, then they might stop doing so in the future. That’s why you have really give them and their feelings the attention they deserve. 

Remember that you might not be able to come up with a simple, instant fix for how they feel. Buying them things might give them a short-term feeling of joy, but it won’t help them in the long-term. Instead, let them know that their feelings are valid and that you’ll both work though things together.

Know the difference between being and acting happy

Just because a child might be acting happy doesn’t mean they truly are. They might just be putting on a happy face because that’s what they think you’ll want to see. 

A good way to see if this is the case is to talk to your ex about how they are around them. If they’re more sad or open when they’re with your ex, then you’ll want to work on your child communication techniques with them to allow for them to open up to you too.

Pet Support During Divorce: Exploring Benefits

It’s been proven that owning a pet is good for your health. Pets are stress relievers, companions, and a good excuse to get a little exercise or spend some time outside. So, what are the benefits of pet support during divorce? Let’s discuss…

Pet Support During Divorce: What Your Furry Friends Can Do For You… 

Good for You

​The benefits of pet support during divorce go on and on. Pets give their owners an overall better wellbeing and greater happiness. They can relieve stress in a high stress time and help keep your mind off your separation. In addition to that, they are great cuddle buddies and are always happy to see you.

Good for Your Health

One of the obvious benefits of pet support during divorce is the need for physical activity. When you’re grieving a divorce, it can be easy to stay in all day on the couch. A simple walk a couple times a day keeps you active and allows for bonding time. Additionally, a study from the American Heart Association shows that pets can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

Good for Children

Children are often confused and lonely when their parents are divorcing. It can be a difficult time for them, needing constant reassurance and extra love. A pet senses this need for extra love and provides just that. Amongst the other benefits of pet support during divorce, pets give children someone to talk to. Putting their thoughts and feelings into words, even to someone who can’t respond, allows a child to come to terms with what’s happening.

Not Just Pets

Other animals can also provide therapeutic relief for children during divorce and they don’t have to live in your home! Horses are healing animals. Learning to care for and ride a horse is a good outlet for built up emotions. Doing so can help ease anger and release frustrations for those who need an outlet. Working in a stable and riding horseback are benefits of pet support during divorce without the live-in component of a pet!

In conclusion, get a pet… Jokes aside, if you happen to be looking for someone loving to share your time with and come home to, consider getting a pet. The benefits of pet support during divorce greatly outweigh the drawbacks, like middle of the night potty breaks or the walks in the rain.

Long Distance Co-Parenting

When parents separate, it generally means the children will soon have two homes. Two places to call home, two homes to create memories, and two places to call their safe space. Sometimes, however, these two homes are far away from each other. When it comes to long distance co-parenting, the distance can be fifty miles or five hundred. However, it still feels like the other parent is on the other side of the world for the child. Long distance co-parenting isn’t a bad thing, it shows effort and dedication on both parts.

Long Distance Co-Parenting

Be Active

If you are the parent that the child lives with most of the time, make sure you send their other parent quick text and photo updates of the child. It’s an easy and quick way to keep the long-distance parent involved in day to day activities.

If you are the other half of the long distance co-parenting situation, you can be active in sending texts or quick phone calls just to let the child know they’re being thought of. By sharing in small daily texts, it’s also important to maintain cordial relationships with your former spouse.

Stay Up to Date

Long distance co-parenting requires a little more effort when it comes to keeping up with your child. Sports, extracurriculars, and other activities are important to children.

Keeping an open line of communication between both parents for matters that regard the child is important. This makes sure no parent feels left out. Keeping up with these aspects of life from afar show there is an investment in the child, even at a distance.

Be Creative

Let’s be honest, it’s hard to keep photos of an ex-spouse in your home. It’s important to keep a few, however, to create a family environment for your kids. In situations of long distance co-parenting, a few family pictures throughout the house will help during visits or moments of missing the long distance parent.

Make Time

Creating a specific time to FaceTime or Skype with your child is so important. Creating a plan and making it a routine creates something for you and your child to look forward to. It can be daily or weekly. This allows for visual time when texts and phone calls are the norm in your long distance co-parenting reality.

​During visits at the long-distance home, use that scheduled time to video chat with the other parent. It will create a balance and still allow some quality time with both parents for the child.