Effective Co-Parenting When Your Ex Lives Out of State
After a couple divorces, it takes a while for everyone to adjust. Even parents need some time to absorb everything that has happened and settle into a new home or city. Some parents need to move away from their hometowns for job-related reasons or to be closer to other family members needing help or offering support. Often, parents divorce at the same time their aging parents need more help, adding even more stress to the mix.
For the sake of the children, try to involve the other parent in their activities and academics. Even if the children travel back and forth during holidays or summer vacation, it is still important for everyone that both parents participate as equally as possible in the kids’ everyday lives.
Some Technology Tips for Keeping in Touch
In today’s world, there is no reason not to make use of video and conferencing technology, email and social media. If you don’t know how something works, it’s likely that your kids do. And, they will be happy to help if it means the other parent can be involved in something special to them.
Consider some of these ideas that many of our clients are implementing to keep everyone involved:
- Set up a “meeting” time with your ex on a regular basis. Acknowledging that this is a difficult thing to do, especially if wounds are still raw from the divorce or a spouse has remarried sooner than you expected, once you break the ice at the first meeting, the rest will be easier. Use the time to discuss decisions that you both need to make and update the other spouse on things going on in your child’s life.
- Agree to exchange information via email or text by a set time and date each week. Use whatever way of communicating you have that makes it easy to do. If you set up an impossible system and a burdensome schedule, you won’t be able to keep your agreement to share information about your child. If you can’t meet the scheduled time, give your ex the courtesy of a head’s up that you need to reschedule.
- Don’t forget to include extended family, especially grandparents: Many grandparents have very close and active relationships with their grandchildren. If they are not able to set up video chats or communicate by email or on social media on their own, enlist your kids to help them get set up. In this way, grandparents can continue to be involved in your children’s lives and see, in real time, how they are growing up.
Rise Above Any Anger or Bitterness
It is very important for your children to see that parents can get along when it comes to decisions about their lives. When children feel forced to choose one parent over the other or see their parents struggle because one parent is disrespectful to the other, they become stressed and may withdraw or act out.
It’s best to let them believe that you and your ex can get along when your children are involved. It can help lead to more success in school and everyday life. If you find communication with your ex is an issue, contact us for help.