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Co-Parenting

Going through a divorce is one of the most stressful events a person may go through during their  lifetime.  Emotions run high, finances, which may have already been an area filled with worry and stress, may become even more so, mental health suffers, and the process may feel endless.

One of the biggest adjustments after spouses separate is the change in the family’s dynamics.  For many, this means learning how to co-parent.  Courts want parties to co-parent their children and often order parties to participate and complete parenting and/or co-parenting courses. Studies have shown parents who effectively learn to co-parent their children have an increased ability to protect their children from the negative effects of the dissolution process, including any parental discourse.

So, what is co-parenting?

Co-parenting means parents work as a teIMG_2563am, putting their children’s needs and desires first and foremost. It means communicating clearly, cooperating with one another, being mature, responsible, taking the high road, even when you do not want to, or believe you are in the right.  Co-parents respect one another’s time with the children and encourage their children to have relationships with the other parent. Co-parenting means being flexible with your respective parenting schedules as your life, the other parent’s life, and the children’s lives change and evolve.  It means learning how to pick your battles and knowing what issues truly matter in the grand scheme of your children’s lives.

If you find yourself embroiled in contentious litigation over child custody and visitation matters, co-parenting may seem like an impossibility.  In most circumstances, this is not the case, but it will take work.  Learning to co-parent frequently requires adjusting your relationship with the other parent and developing in essence a whole new relationship.  The driving force of this new relationship is the best interests of the children.

Co-parenting during the holiday season may be especially difficult as many issues may arise, such as scheduling conflicts, travel plans, or even just one parent being upset that they cannot spend as much special time with the children as they desire.  The likelihood for conflict between the parents increases when emotions are heightened.

Children will likely be more upset by discord between their parents and families during the holiday season and more likely will revel in the opportunity to celebrate a holiday or special occasion more than once!

During the holiday seasons, parents should strive to create positive and happy memories for the children.  Remember, ‘Tis the season for co-co-co-parenting!

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