Children typically experience a great deal of emotional stress following a parental separation. Parents can do a number of things to support their children following a family break-up. By staying involved in their lives, maintaining continuity in their schedules, listening to their feelings, and offering realistic assurances, parents can help orient their children towards a more positive future.
Parents can also assist their children by cooperating, or co-parenting, with their ex-spouses. A positive co-parenting relationship begins with a parenting plan, which includes a well-defined schedule, mechanisms for addressing major decisions, and an agreement concerning financial responsibilities. The parents engage in regular, courteous communication addressing their children’s medical, academic, emotional, and behavioral needs. Each parent gives the other autonomy to make day-to-day decisions, while they endeavor to reach an understanding on major issues. Both parents make it their goal to promote their ex-spouse’s relationship with their children.
Many parents benefit from the services of a therapist in the co-parenting process. Therapists who perform co-parenting therapy help ex-spouses focus their communication on the well-being of the children and resolve their differences in a peaceful manner. Many families find that the improvement in the co-parenting relationship that results from co-parenting therapy brings emotional and behavioral improvement in the children, and greater satisfaction among the adults.
For more information about co-parenting, please see article written by Jonah Green on Therapy with Divorcing Families.
For more information on help for divorcing families, please see Jonah’s CE presentation, “Therapy for Divorcing Families: Helping Families Separate and Reorganize“.