The approach of child-centred co-parenting focuses on ensuring the well-being and emotional growth of your child amidst the complexities of them having parents who are not together.
Drawing on key takeaways from the book and podcast chat, here are 5 ways to make your child’s needs the priority in your co-parenting journey.
1. Embrace Open Communication
The cornerstone of child-centred co-parenting is fostering open and effective communication between co-parents. Like it or not, the other parent of your child is likely going to be in your child’s life for a long time! The more you can be respectful, factual and concise and focus on your children instead of each other when communicating, the smoother the correspondence between you will be and the better you and your children will feel. For those who might have a particularly high-conflict ex, the use of parenting apps and a parallel parenting style approach may be more suitable and make it easier to keep things civil.
2. Refrain from Bad Mouthing Your Ex
This is a key piece of advice that we hear time and time again. Children are not emotionally equipped to handle adult situations and problems, including your separation and divorce. While it might be really difficult to hold your tongue in the heat of the moment, or if triggered by something in the moment, if you can refrain from complaining about their other parent in front of them or even passing comments on their other parents behaviour, you will help your child in the long run. What benefits are we talking about? Removing their guilt about their love for the other parent and preventing feelings of anxiety. Another tip we love from the book? Try substituting ‘Joey’s Mum’ or ‘Jenny’s Dad’ rather than ‘My Ex’ when speaking about the child’s other parent to others.
3. Learn to Relinquish Control
This is another big one! One of the trickiest things can be letting go of control of what goes on when your child is with the other parent. For example, what they are eating, allowed to watch or weekend activities they partake in. If you can have trust that the other parent will take care of them and stop the worry over the details when they are not in your care, it will do you a world of good. Instead, focus on what you are doing with your child-free time – what activities can you do that will energise you and bring you a sense of fulfilment? And when the kids come back to you? Definitely don’t and know that when the child comes back into your care you can run things just the way you like.
4. Formulate a Parenting Plan
One of the best things to consider when first separating from your ex-partner is to put a parenting plan in place. If you can agree and define the ‘big things’ upfront such as decisions around schooling, holidays/special occasions, religion etc.’ it will make life a whole lot easier along the way and reduce a lot of conflict and tension. With the peace of mind that you have agreed on (and have a plan for) how the important things will be handled now and in the future, it makes the smaller things easier to let go of as they crop up along the way. Better yet, a parenting plan helps children know when and where they are going, thus creating a sense of stability. As for the formalities? You need to ensure you write it down and have it dated and signed by both parties.
5. Find It Within You To Forgive
The authors advocate that staying angry with someone can take a huge toll on you and your children. They suggest you have to invest a lot of energy into keeping hold of that hurt and pain; energy that could be used for moving on and rebuilding your life. We agree! If you can work on a mindset that allows you to leave the past in the past, refrain from letting your ex’s behaviour control your wellbeing and acknowledge that people do make mistakes, you’ll be able to move forward more easily. No matter what has happened in years gone by, the main thing to remember is that your ex-partner loves your child as much as you. Try and focus on that and push the rest aside!
In essence, child-centred co-parenting is not solely a strategy; it’s a philosophy of parenting that transcends differences and challenges. While everyone’s situation is different, we all have a choice in terms of our mindset and our actions and these can have a big impact on the kids in your life. Which of these ideas could you implement? We highly recommend Tracey and Daniella’s book Child-Centred Co-Parenting drawing on their own inspiring personal journey for more on this subject!