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Tips for Successful Co-Parenting
By Danielle Levy, Psy.D.
When I ask newly divorced parents about their co-parenting goals, they typically respond that they want whatever is best for their kids. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, many parents become so focused on their own needs (or on the antics of their exes) that they forget the needs of their kids. High conflict and high stress divorce situations can cause lapses in memory and a loss of focus. Below are a few tips to help ease the way and to help you and your kids survive your divorce.
Take a step back and look at the big picture. Making the transition from being one of two to being a party of one is difficult, often long, and typically painful. The journey is more of a cross-country trip, rather than a long day trek. It’s a big country and the exploration will take time, patience and tenacity. Settle in for the long haul and enjoy the view from the windshield.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. Put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others. Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love (Brene Brown). In other words, if you don’t take care of yourself, particularly in times of stress, you can’t be fully present for your children. Expect that this will take a toll and plan for occasional crisis management!
Conduct a check-up on your support system. Do you even have a support system? Who and what are they supporting? Do they help you focus on solutions, on the future, and on harmony? If not, does your support system need a tune-up?
As often as possible, try to remember something positive about your ex’s parenting. Lots of great parents were terrible spouses.
Remember that your kids will eventually become adults. Be sure you display the qualities and values you want them to emulate in their own lives and with their own partners. They are listening and watching.
Finally, know that you can do this. Many before you have survived and many more will. You have handled difficult things in your life before, and you can handle this too!
Bio: Danielle Levy is a clinical psychologist in private practice in East Cobb. She is one half of Family Psychology of East Cobb. She and her partner established their practice at the end of 2009 after leaving a private non-profit child advocacy center. When she left the advocacy center, Dr. Levy was the Clinical Director and had gained experience conducting forensic interviews with child victims of sexual abuse, providing testimony and training, and working with professionals in multiple fields. In addition to working with child sexual abuse, Dr. Levy currently provides co-parent counseling, Parent Coordination, and psychotherapy for kids, adults, and families. She has a particular interest in helping families transition through divorce while minimizing the effect on family members. She has also recently begun accepting referrals for Custody Evaluations.
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