Whether you live in separate homes or separate cities, sharing the parenting of a child requires a special touch, and a willingness to put your child’s needs and feelings ahead of your own.
Today, many marriages end in divorce and in many cases parents are choosing joint custody arrangements for their children. This means that any major decisions are shared, and that the kids spend ample time with both parents. While this arrangement is often better for children, it can be challenging for the parents. Laurie Coulter, author of Two Homes says that the secret to successful shared parenting begins with a positive outlook. “I think it’s important to first, not view yourself as a failure because your marriage has ended. I like to talk of marriages ending rather than failing, and I think we have to believe our children aren’t going to be failures because a marriage has ended.”
Laurie adds, “when a marriage has ended the family simply becomes a different type of family. It becomes two units each headed by a parent rather than one unit headed by two parents.”
While there are often feeling of anger and bitterness between parents, in order to co-parent successfully it’s vital that these feelings are put aside so that parents can “develop a parenting partnership based on the needs of the child rather than your own needs”, says Coulter.
But for divorced parents, separated from their children by hundreds or thousands of miles, shared parenting needs to be handled differently. In this situation remaining a part of your child’s life in spite of the miles separating you, has it’s own challenges. Family therapist Timothy Bentley says when you do have some one on one time with your child, it may “require a light touch and a more gentle hand, allowing the child to set more of the standard of how they wish to behave so that you’re not coming down with an artificial and foreign regime for the child.”
Bentley says it’s vital for parents to communicate with their children to understand what they want and need from both parents. Then it’s vital that parents put their feelings about their relationship on the back burner so that they can put their children’s feelings and needs first.
Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.