When I first heard the term "conscious uncoupling" during Gwyneth Paltrow's divorce I thought "that's so Hollywood". However, the more I thought about it the more it made sense. If more divorcing parents could follow the famous couple's lead the better their children would be. The reality in a divorce with children is that your marriage may be over but your relationship is not. As I often tell my clients, you are stuck together for life because you have children together. The better your relationship with the other parent the better off your children will be. Your former spouse does not have to be your enemy and can actually remain an important ally as you navigate raising children post-divorce and/or with a newly blended family. Here are some helpful (some obvious) hints to truly putting the best interest of your children first:
- Never say a disparaging word about the other parent in the presence of your children;
- Try counseling during the divorce and afterward if necessary to ensure peaceful co-parenting and address any issues as they may arise;
- Assure your children that while you won't have the same family as before and all under one roof will still be a family;
- Sit together with the other parent during children's sporting and other extracurricular events;
- Always greet the other parent respectfully and with reasonable affection if possible;
- Discuss major issues involving minor children with the other parent first and let the kids know before you provide an answer to them that you have to discuss with mom or dad first;
- Help the kids purchase gifts for the other parent's birthday or on holidays;
- Invite the other parent into your home on occasion where comfortable;
- Maintain a united front on major issues such as social media, cell phone usage, and purchase of a car for your 16-year-old, etc. Collaborate on homework, discipline and attend parent/teacher conferences together when possible; and
- Remain flexible. Keep in mind the children's preferences and best interest when faced with a request to change days, weekends, etc. for the other parent's special occasion or family event.
**These are just a few suggestions and apply when both parents are willing and mentally healthy.
Divorce is an inherently painful process especially on children and we as parents can minimize this pain by truly putting our kids first and learning how to co-parent effectively.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.