You and your spouse have two children under five years old. As you move toward divorce, you worry about the potential impact for the kids. How will it make them feel? How will they adjust?
You do not worry so much about losing the relationship yourself. You can deal with that. You just do not want the kids to suffer.
They do not have to. Parental cooperation can go a long way. This could mean keeping divorce out of the courtroom and agreeing to work together toward a solution. It could mean continuing this spirit of co-parenting after divorce. In some cases, it almost means acting like a family, even if you're not married.
After all, some claim that the best thing you can do for your children after a divorce is simply working hard to get along and stay involved. Put your own feelings second. Put the kids' feelings first.
People often think of co-parenting as something parents do on their own. Mom drops the kids off at Dad's house for the weekend. He brings them back on Monday or just drops them off at school. The parents work together, but they are never together. The children see them individually.
This works in some situations, and all parents need to know what works for them. However, if possible, it may help the kids if you can co-parent together. For instance, one woman said that she knew a divorced couple who:
- Both set up and attended the child's birthday parties together.
- Took a family camping trip with both parents and their child.
- Tagged each other in Facebook pictures of their child so that grandparents and others on both sides could see everything the child did.
Essentially, the woman said that her friends were just "so nice" about the divorce. They did not turn into a bickering couple, constantly on the verge of a fight. They did not want to stay married, but they stayed civil and engaged for their child's sake.
She said that it worked. The child was happy and smiling in all of those social media posts. She admitted that he probably felt some confusion since they lived in different homes. Clearly, the dynamic had changed. But their situation made it easier for him to adjust. Even when it was hard, his parents got along and worked together because they knew that it would help him.
Again, every situation is different. For some couples, this type of cooperation may seem harder than it does for others. It also takes two people to make it work; no matter how badly you want things to go smoothly, your ex has to want it as well. But this example shows why cooperation is important and why you need to consider all of your options when setting up your own custody arrangement.