Research recently published in the social work journal Family Relations indicates that when co-parents focus their relationship on the needs of their children, a more satisfying custody arrangement is experienced by all affected family members. Meaning that when parents who are divorced or otherwise not parenting under the same roof put their differences aside for the benefit of their children, these parents benefit from this effort as well.
It can be difficult to know exactly how to go about putting aside your differences and focusing on your children’s needs. After all, in the immediate aftermath of divorce especially, the differences between co-parents can seem overwhelming and all consuming. In order to redirect focus away from tension and onto children, parents are advised to put time and thought into creating a parenting plan.
A parenting plan can outline whatever child-related issues would benefit from being communicated about in advance. For example, the parenting plan can discuss how parents will share time with their children during the holiday season and how disputes about extracurricular activities will be solved.
This form of proactive communication can enable parents to discuss their children’s needs without the tension that accompanies unexpected circumstances, pressure from non-immediate family and other pressing issues that arise in everyday life.
In addition, it is important to keep your children’s best interests at the forefront of your mind when unexpected circumstances do arise. It may frustrate you that your former spouse has won tickets to a professional football game for the weekend you are supposed to have visitation, but if it would deeply benefit your child to go, perhaps a compromised schedule can be reached. When your co-parent frustrates you, and he or she inevitably will, evidence suggests that focusing resolution of the situation on the best needs of your child will ultimately make your world more peaceful in the end.
Source: Deseret News, “Parenting under two roofs: Focusing on the children after divorce,” Rachel Lowry, Oct. 23, 2012