Co-Parenting Champions: Navigating your MN Divorce with GraceSep 27, 2023
There are so many decisions that have to be made while going through a divorce in MN, one of the biggest being co-parenting issues. Understanding how to go from parenting as a married couple to co-parenting and what’s best for your children can be a challenge. Emotions are high, things can be moving quickly, and it’s easy to get caught up in your feelings towards one another. However, the best parenting plans I’ve seen are when the parents are able to set their feelings aside and decide what is best for their children. This week I had Karen Bonnell, the author of The Co-Parenting Handbook on the podcast, she’s an amazing resource.
It’s not uncommon for couples to be on different pages about divorce. Typically one person will announce they want a divorce, and the other may feel blindsided, or be in the mindset that they want to work on things to see if the marriage can be saved. Karen’s first piece of advice was to allow a window of time to let the other person in the relationship sit with the decisions being made. Provide time to understand each other’s emotional path.
When you're in the thick of a divorce it can be easy for triggers to occur. I loved a piece of advice Karen gave: during a divorce, you should communicate less, not more. Plan out times when you are going to talk about divorce issues like assets, and a separate time when you need to talk about the children. Do not allow these meeting topics to cross into one another. Be respectful and compassionate of each other's emotions and be knowledgeable when you hit a nerve or the topic is territorial. Pause the conversation and revisit it at a later time if it is getting heated. Decisions made, especially regarding kids, should be made when the two of you can be in a more relaxed state, remembering they are in the center of decisions to be made.
A strategy that Karen likes to use with her clients, that I’ll be adopting with mine as well, is to do some goal setting and futurizing. Think about your life in 20 years, and what you want your children to look back and say. Ask yourself how you’d want your children to finish this sentence: “The truth of the matter is, when you divorced, the two of you were able to ________.” Fill in those blanks, and then everything you do from here on out is to build that vision. Other questions to ask yourself:
- Who do I need to be as a parent?
- What are the skills I need to be the best co-parent I can be for the other parent?
- What is going to hold me back from being the best parent for my child?
Aside from working with your ex spouse, there are emotions of your children that you need to think about. Children have their own journey through divorce. They will likely experience confusion, heartbreak, anger, sadness, and more. Allow them to talk to you about what they are feeling and answer any questions. Don’t sugar coat it for them, instead remind them that you are rebuilding and restructuring as a family. They will now have a 2 home family. They don’t need the details of why you are getting divorced, they just need to understand how it is going to change their life. Research shows that children are going to benefit the most from two capable parents and a shared schedule. They need time with each parent at their respective homes, it doesn’t have to be 50/50, it just needs to be quality time.
Karen’s Co-Parenting Handbook pairs well with my Online Parenting Course, so please grab both to ensure that you have the best parenting plan possible! If you are in the Minnesota area and are looking for a mediator, please reach out and schedule your free consultation.
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