When parents get divorced, it’s extremely stressful for the kids, even when mom and dad aren’t arguing, or fighting for custody. So, what can help? Co-parenting classes! According to ABC News, the classes don’t teach you how to be a parent. They teach you how to raise your kids when you don’t live together. Here’s some of the intel these classes pass along:
- Your kids always come first. You should tell them often that it’s not their fault that you’re getting divorced, and that you and your ex will always love them, no matter what.
- Don’t put your kids in the middle. In other words, keep your feelings and comments about your ex-spouse to yourself. Don’t burden your kids with the details of your divorce. In other words, don’t say, “Your mom lied to me about ______ whatever.” Or “We can’t afford that because your good-for-nothing father won’t pay child support.” Marital issues should only be dealt with spouse to spouse, privately. Not within earshot of the kids.
- Treat your ex like a respected business partner. Robert Emery is a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. He says that means: Be polite. Keep your communications brief and formal. Don’t get too involved in each others’ lives. Be supportive co-workers on your #1 project: Successfully raising your children. To do that, both partners need to use the same set of rules, or “business practices,” if you will.
- Also: never criticize your ex in front of your kids. Why? Because you’re not just criticizing your former spouse. You’re also criticizing your child – because they both share the same DNA.
- Finally, support your child’s relationship with your ex. Long after the divorce dust settles, both of you will still be in your children’s lives. So, make sure they know it’s okay to love mommy and daddy – and that you’ll never ask them to choose sides.
If you’d like to go further, check out the co-parenting website UpToParents.org.