The reality of a divorce can be a hard hit for any couple, but for the children who are involved, witnessing the divorce of their parents can be especially difficult and traumatic. The transition into co-parenting can bring about a slew of new challenges that may worsen their children’s grief. From planning issues to communication breakdowns, such problems might lead to frequent conflicts between the co-parents. This may result in greater emotional and psychological problems for the children.
According to a study, successful co-parenting can greatly mitigate the negative effects of divorce on children. By creating a healthy and collaborative co-parenting environment, the children can develop emotional resilience as they feel safe and loved by both parents. In this article, Senior Counsellor at TOUCH Integrated Family Group, Ms Elysia Tan, shares some tips on how to make co-parenting work.
As a co-parent, it is essential that you put your children’s needs before your own, says Ms Tan. While there may still be some resentment between you and your ex, creating a stable environment for the children should always be the priority.
Reframe your old personal relationship into a working co-parenting relationship. Keep interactions as respectful, cordial and professional as possible. It is important not to let bitter emotions interfere with your communication.
If you have pent-up anger and resentment towards your ex, try to find safe channels to let go of those feelings. Look for friends or therapists who can lend a listening ear, but never speak negatively about your ex to your children. Doing so would make them feel like they have to take sides, which may make them feel guilty and overwhelmed.
When communicating with your co-parent, stick to topics regarding the children. Adopt a respectful and business-like tone to avoid falling into an argument. Additionally, always listen attentively and try to understand your co-parent’s perspective. Even if there’s a disagreement, refrain from criticising the other party or bringing up old issues. Doing this will create more barriers to problem-solving.
Try to communicate with your co-parent as frequently as possible. This will help you to cooperate more effectively and let your children feel more secure knowing that there is no hostility between the parents.
“While face to face communication is recommended, co-parents can still find it difficult to deal with face to face meetings. In this case, try communicating electronically with your co-parent via emails or text messages when the need arises or seek help from a mediator or professional counsellor,” advises Ms Tan.
Need family-related advice or help with co-parenting issues? Contact TOUCH Family Life at 6709 8400 or click here to find out more.
TOUCH Integrated Family Group (TIFG) is TOUCH’s newest service group, set up in January 2020. TIFG focuses on Family Resources to help families cope with different stressors along their life course, transition of roles in Family Transitions, Relationships & Growth, and building Family Resilience.
With TOUCH’s multi-service experience in meeting the needs of disadvantaged children, youth-at-risk and vulnerable families since 1992, TIFG aims to equip families with resources and enable them to build resilience. This is done through an integrated suite of services to support the family as a unit, with emphasis on education, intervention and advocacy.
Paul R. Amato, J. B. (2011). Reconsidering the "Good Divorce". Family Relations.
 Kelly, J. B., & Emery, R. E. (2003). Children's adjustment following divorce: Risk and resilience perspectives. Family Relations, 52, 352–362.