It can take a lot of work for divorced or separated parents to achieve a healthy co-parenting relationship, but with commitment, respect, and patience, it can be done. When you communicate calmly and respectfully, refrain from using the children as information conduits, and speak positively to them about their other parent, bringing up your children becomes a team effort that can help them transition through the divorce and thrive.
When you work with your former spouse or partner to create a positive co-parenting environment, you help the children feel the safety and security they need to become happy and resilient. Kids thrive when they know that their relationship with both parents is loving, safe, and leaves them with a sense of belonging.
Below is a number of resources that Texas co-parents may find helpful. They include visitation schedule tips, guidelines for decision-making, and even apps that can help your partnership with your children’s other parent run more smoothly
General Tips for Co-Parenting
These resources are an ideal starting point because they deal with the basics, which makes them especially useful for new co-parents. Areas covered include general advice, recommended do’ and don’ts, and services that may be available in your area.
- 11 Successful Co-Parenting Commandments: The commandments in this article can start your co-parenting relationship off on the right foot and take a collaborative approach to all aspects of bringing up the children.
- Helping Your Child Deal With Divorce: This article by family health counselor Marina Williams has insightful tips for helping your child cope with your divorce.
- The Texas Attorney-General Co-Parenting Guide: This co-parenting guide addresses key topics, such as how divorce affects different age groups and conflict with the other parent. It also includes additional resources for parents and children.
Apps for Co-Parenting
Ask anyone who’s been there: co-parenting can be an exercise in planning and patience, especially if your relationship with the child’s other parent is difficult. Fortunately, living in the digital age means that you have access to a wealth of co-parenting apps that can make your life easier. Here are some free and paid apps for you to choose from.
- Google Calendar: Many people, from divorced parents to busy professionals, use Google Calendar to plan their lives. You and your former spouse can create a shared calendar to coordinate visitation and keep each other informed of your child’s medical appointments, after-school activities, and more.
- AppClose: This free co-parenting app comes with a shared calendar, a secure messaging system, expense tracker, and other features that are normally limited to paid apps. You and the other parent can even use it to send or request payment for your child’s expenses.
- Cozi: Cozi is a free app that you can use to create not only shared calendars but to-do lists, meal plans, shopping lists, and other tools that can make co-parenting easier.
- Our Family Wizard: Designed specifically for co-parents, Texas family court judges will order parents to use Our Family Wizard in high-conflict custody situations. It costs $99 per year per parent but includes valuable features such as a color-coded shared custody calendar, expense log, family journal, and secure messaging system.
- Coparently: Like Our Family Wizard, Coparently offers shared resources such as a schedule, expense log, and secure messaging system. It also costs $99 per year for each parent.
- Talking Parents: This messaging app keeps records of communications between you and your former spouse, which is handy if he or she may try to edit or delete messages. The app is free but if you want to download communication records, the monthly fee is $4.99. (You can also download records for $3.99)
Learning how to co-parent while coping with the emotional consequences of divorce is not easy, but fortunately, there are several good co-parenting books that can both reassure you and give you a sense of direction. Below is a list of well-recommended books for both parents and kids.
Books for Adults
- Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Written by acclaimed therapist Isolina Ricci, this book is so rich with guidelines, checklists, self-tests, and other tools that it has practically become mandatory reading for co-parents.
- The Co-Parents’ Handbook: This highly recommended volume by clinical nurse specialist Karen Bonnell shows parents how to guide their children through separation or divorce and successfully bring them up in two loving homes.
- Co-Parenting With A Toxic Ex: When your child’s other parent tries to turn them against you, the feelings of anguish and helplessness can be indescribable. This book recommends ways of dealing with a toxic former spouse and avoiding the damaging effects of parental alienation syndrome.
Books For Children
- Dinosaurs Divorce: Using a dinosaur family as an example, this book helps smaller children understand why grown-ups divorce, what it’s like to have two homes instead of one, and what to expect if stepparents and stepsiblings enter the picture later on.
- Divorce Is Not The End Of The World: When their parents separate, it can make the children feel as if their world is coming to an end. This book helps them understand divorce better, cope with their feelings, and process future changes.
- I Don’t Want To Talk About It: When your children learn about your divorce, they may have a hundred questions or not want to talk about it at all. This book is intended for the latter outcome and will help younger children deal with their emotions.
Residential and Visitation Schedules
Developing a residential and visitation schedule is an essential step in helping your children adjust to life after divorce. These schedules do more than divvy up custody responsibilities: they make it easier for you and the other parent to work together to reduce the children’s stress, anxiety, and feelings of isolation.
- Standard Possession Order and Parenting Time: This web page explains the difference between possession and access in Texas from both a legal and practical standpoint.
Some Ways To Handle The Holidays
- Texas Custody and Visitation Schedule Guidelines: Deciding which parent will get the children for the holidays is an emotionally difficult undertaking. Custody X Change provides some common examples that Texas co-parents can use to arrive at a fair arrangement.
- 5 Tips For Celebrating the Holidays With a Blended Family: Managing the holidays after divorce is a tricky undertaking. This article in Today’s Parent has great tips for avoiding conflict and achieving compromise in a blended family arrangement.
Handling Parent-Child Communication After Divorce
One of the biggest challenges that Texas co-parents face after divorce is communicating with your kids and your former spouse. Your children will not always tell you when they are scared, depressed, or angry, and not all co-parents treat the arrangement as a team effort. These articles can introduce you to different communication and decision-making techniques that work.
- Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Parents:This HelpGuide article has excellent tips for overcoming communication challenges and developing a practical co-parenting relationship with your former spouse.
- 9 Discipline Mistakes Divorced Parents Often Make: One of the best ways of mastering new challenges is to learn from the mistakes of others. This article by Very Well Family reviews nine common discipline mistakes made by co-parents.
- Successful Co-Parenting Communication After Divorce: Communication problems between parents and between parents and children are not unusual. Divorce Magazine shows you how to keep the lines of communication open between everyone.
Additional Co-Parenting Considerations
There are several other life situations that call for smooth co-parenting after divorce. They include maintaining a relationship with your former spouse’s family and acting on an opportunity to move out of state.
- Relationships with Former In-Laws: Your former in-laws will probably want to play an active role in the children’s lives after the divorce. This article from DivorceMag has guidelines for maintaining a stable and cordial relationship with your children’s grandparents.
- Moving Your Child Out Of Texas: Parents sometimes move out of state after divorce for work or personal reasons. This DivorceNet article explains how Texas laws apply to these move-away cases.
Are You a Co-Parent Needing Assistance?
Even in the best of circumstances, co-parenting can present some personal and legal challenges. At the Wright Firm, LLP, we have helped co-parents in and around Dallas resolve problems regarding child custody, visitation, and similar co-parenting arrangements. For advice and support you can trust, contact us today at 1-972-353-4600 or 1-877-353-4600.