Dads’ Resource Center offers tips for successfully co-parenting following divorce or separation.
According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), one out of every two marriages ends in divorce. Many of these marriages involve children, putting them at risk for a variety of emotional issues resulting from the separation. It is vital that the children continue to have the active involvement of both parents, and that the parents find a way to work together on their behalf.
“The impact on kids not having access to their fathers is heartbreaking,” says Dads’ Resource Center founder Dr. Joel N. Myers. “Most fathers know their children are missing out, but are unable to overcome the barriers to the system and fulfill the most fundamental role that men have – being a dad.”
How the two parents go about co-parenting makes a world of difference in the emotional health of their child. Successful co-parenting doesn’t happen by accident, but it is something that people can do with intention and effort.
The AACAP advises that children will do best when they know that both parents will remain actively engaged in their lives. They also report that the research shows children do better when parents can minimize conflict and cooperate on the child’s behalf. While many parents know that this is the healthiest route for their children, they may still find it difficult to figure out how to do it.
According to Dads’ Resource Center, there are three stages that co-parents go through following separation. The stages include family reorganization, co-parenting, and personal growth. In family reorganization, decisions are made about where the children will be and when and how they will be supported. The co-parenting stage is where decisions will be made about how to make it all work. Finally, the personal growth stage is where parents have finally established a working relationship without conflict, which brings relief to their children. The longer that parents remain stuck in the re-organization and co-parenting stages, the more the children are negatively impacted.
It’s important that parents make a concerted effort to learn how to co-parent while separated. Here are some tips for how parents can successfully co-parent, provided by Dads’ Resource Center:
- Both parents need to commit to always doing what is best for their children, which includes making sure both parents have the access needed to maintain an active and meaningful relationship with them. This extends to family on both sides.
- Communication is vital. Mom and dad should be able to work out the logistics in a patient and calm manner and make a habit of providing updates on how the children are doing – in school, about health-related matters, how they are doing developmentally, and what is going on generally in their lives.
- Both parents need to practice forgiveness. For the sake of their children, mom and dad need to let the past be in the past and treat one another with acceptance and compassion.
- Separated parents should educate themselves about the impact that divorce has on children, to help minimize the negative consequences. If they are having a difficult time collaboratively co-parenting parents should find support from family, friends, churches or seek professional help.
- However, parents should not allow themselves to become overly reliant on family courts and child welfare services to manage their inability to work together. Doing so only enables them in not moving on, and if they don’t move on their children can’t either.
“Parenting is not a one-person job,” added Jeff Steiner, executive director of the Dads’ Resource Center. “Even in a separated family, both parents should view the other parent as an equal partner in the upbringing of their children. This means they must be adaptable and flexible and treat one another with grace and compassion.”
Dads’ Resource Center has been established to benefit children of separated or divorced parents by advocating the importance of fathers having adequate opportunities to fulfill their role of fatherhood. The group helps get information regarding the issues out to the public and work with fathers to help make improvements.