Abusive or violent relationships aside, divorced parents still must work as partners to raise their children. This often means communicating about important matters when neither parent feels much like talking with the other. However, when it comes to child custody matters, it may help parents to set some ground rules that will allow them to communicate effectively without falling into old habits of negativity and contention. For many, this means re-envision their relationship as a business partnership that focuses only on the well-being of the children.
Difficult as it may be to set aside old hurts and emotional damage, divorced spouses must do this regularly if they are to accomplish their roles as co-parents. It is often impossible to provide a stable and consistent environment for a child when the parents are working at odds with each other. Considering the many decisions parents must make for the best interests of their kids, they may find it easier to accomplish this by keeping their relationship strictly professional, including:
- Refusing to disparage one another or use profanity in front of the children
- Refusing to allow the children to be disrespectful when they speak about the other parent
- Keeping the their disagreements private and not involving the children
- Creating boundaries and routines for the children, such as homework and bedtime, and agreeing to remain consistent in both households
It is also important for parents to expect sudden changes, including unexpected work shifts, late meetings or last minute slumber parties. Reacting as one would with a colleague or boss, remaining flexible without criticism or blame, is often the most effective way to deal with these child custody matters.