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Strategies for Co-Parenting Well

As you complete your divorce and close one chapter of your life, another begins: co-parenting. Setting up a new normal and relearning how to parent your children - often alone - can be difficult, even for the most experienced parents.

At Magee, Zeringue & Richardson, we routinely work with parents who face these new challenges. Here are some of the most successful tips we've seen and heard from parents who make the transition well:

Establish boundaries, rules and acceptable behavior together, and stick to it - Consistency is going to be critical. Your children need a new normal and a clear understanding of what to expect going forward. Consistency will also help protect the co-parenting relationship you are forming with your former spouse.

Keep open communication with the other parent - Marriage may not have worked, but that doesn't mean parenting together is doomed. Your former spouse is likely the last person you want to talk to right now, so keep the conversation strictly to parenting issues. Commit to creating a bridge over your differences so that you can hold productive conversations about the children. Speak frequently and make an effort to keep those conversations positive.

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Commit to being positive about your child's parent - For better or worse, the other individual is the parent of your child, and it is in your child's best interest for you to speak positively about that person and take a positive mentality toward him or her. Studies show that tearing another parent down in front of your children can cause psychological stress and trauma.

Release yourself from the thought that you need to control the other parent's decisions - The two of you have decided how you will raise the children together. Insofar as your spouse's decisions aren't affecting the children, remind yourself that you no longer have a say in that person's life and decision-making.

Speak up - While you cannot control the other person, if that parent is making destructive decisions that will directly affect your child, speak up. Take action to protect your child, if necessary.

Know and understand your child's stepfamily - If someone in your child's stepfamily contributed to your divorce, this may be too emotionally taxing. But if possible, make an effort to be on familiar terms with the stepfamily. This is an extension of your child's family now; respect and goodwill go far in creating a new and comfortable norm for your child.

When necessary, do not hesitate to get help from a professional - This is going to be hard sometimes. Talking to someone who is educated in these issues makes you a stronger parent for your child - and protects your own well-being.

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Covington, LA 70433

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