New Year's Resolution - Successful parenting with your ex

Updated: Sep 27, 2018

Claudia Abelheim, educational psychologist and head of Youth Services at The Family Life Centre.

Many divorced / separated families have experienced hostilities during the festive season with both parents wanting to enjoy the holiday period with their children.  With the advent of a New Year bringing on resolutions many would benefit by addressing this conflict for the best interest of the children. Below are some important questions asked by many journalists about parenting in separate homes.

What is the golden rule of good co-parenting?

Your children’s best interests should always be your priority.  When a couple gets married and have children, they always bring parts of their own upbringing and family background into the new family, even if it is done unconsciously.  This means that couples often find themselves in a situation where they have very different styles of parenting.  Compromise and open communication is key in finding a new style that suits both parties and the children.

What is the value of having a good Parenting Plan in place?

A good parenting plans puts boundaries and systems in place to cover all areas of parenting.  This provides a framework for parents to work from when difficult or challenging situations arise.  This is important to eliminate confusion and conflict, which in turn eliminates confusion for the children.  Hopefully a good parenting plan will ensure consistency for the child, which is important for developing children in order to create a sense of safety and security in the world around them.

What are some of the psychological challenges that can arise for the co-parent, and how can one deal with them?

Having a different style of parenting from your partner can be very frustrating for both parties involved.  This can often cause tension and conflict between the parents which results in fighting and puts a strain on the relationship.  If one parent is more dominant than the other, it can result in feelings of inadequacy, incompetence and a sense of failure for the more submissive parent.  Attending parental guidance or parent education courses or groups can help parents find a more cohesive style of parenting that suits both parties’ styles.  Having children can often bring up personal issues from one’s own childhood and the way one was parented.  Individual or couples counselling can assist in exploring these issues.

What are some of the social challenges that can arise for the co-parent, and how can one deal with them?

Certain societal norms still exist with regards to what is thought to be the best way to parent.  Parents may feel that they are not good enough, or not raising their children in the “correct