Co-parenting after getting remarried can be a unique challenge especially if you share a testy relationship with your ex. Things can get even harder once another new partner enters the scene and tries to raise your child as their own. For the well being of your child, you need to try to create a cordial and workable relationship with your ex-spouse and their partner.
Divorce can make life feel unraveled on countless levels. And no one in its sphere is immune to its effects. If you have children and are co-parenting, you know there will be new adjustments as you begin to open your life to new love. And if you plan to remarry, you will need keys to co-parenting that support your children and allow you to move on with your life.
Research shows that children of divorce who spend at least 35% of their time with each parent have better relationships with both parents. They also fare better academically, socially, and psychologically.
The takeaway here is that shared parenting, or co-parenting, should be the goal of divorced parents committed to their children’s highest good. (However, co-parenting isn’t always possible and sometimes it isn’t in the best interest of the children.)
Successfully using the keys to co-parenting requires the commitment of the parents to behave as adults. Their primary focus can’t be on their personal squabbles or lingering anger from their marriage.
And if the biological parents can’t co-parent in a healthy way, adding a new spouse to the mix won’t make things any easier.
Briefly, here is a review of the important keys to co-parenting in a healthy way. This is what you want your relationship to look like on behalf of your children.
- Clear boundaries. You don’t try to control one another or interfere in matters that don’t involve your children’s welfare.
- Open communication – talking, email, text, etc.
- Consistency with the rules in both households. Granted, you’re not going to have identical homes and styles. But your children know that “homework before TV” means the same thing at Dad’s as it does at Mom’s.
- A predetermined, predictable schedule. And any changes are discussed with one another before being discussed with the kids.
- Willingness to be flexible. Life happens, and everyone needs some give now and then.
- Never speaking disrespectfully of the other, at least not in front of your children. You recognize the significance of the other parent in your children’s lives, and you keep your adult issues out of their earshot.
- Amicability during social events where both you and your ex are present. This becomes especially important when one or both of you begin dating other people and including them in your children’s lives.
Before discussing keys to co-parenting after you have remarried, it’s worth pausing to look at what a child experiences when a parent remarries.
By stepping into your child’s shoes, you will intuitively navigate your co-parenting arrangement more compassionately and successfully.
1) A sense of loss.
The child realizes that he will never have his original family back. He may even feel he is losing the parent who is remarrying. He may even feel jealousy toward the new stepparent and stepsiblings.
Recognize that your child may feel like an outsider in his own home, and be prepared to reassure him of his essential place.
2) Confused feelings.
Underlying the keys to co-parenting after remarrying are the natural, perplexing feelings of the child who feels lost in the new dynamics.
Expect that your child will be insecure about how to accept the new stepparent and still respect her “replaced” parent. She will naturally make comparisons between the two.
She may also have loyalty struggles, especially if you have unresolved issues with your ex. This is why it is so important that parents never fight “through” their kids.
3) Adjusting to new rules and relationships.
Anytime someone new enters an established relationship, there are changes in routines and rules. A child may feel resentment toward a new authority figure. He may also long for privacy that becomes more difficult to find with new family members around.
Younger children tend to adapt to new relationships more quickly than older children. By studying and considering your child’s developmental stage, you can better anticipate emotional and behavioral responses to divorce and remarriage.