(Updated August 4th, 2021)
Today, roughly 10% of children live with a parent who abuses alcohol. Even more alarming than this statistic is how rapidly this number continues to grow. With a global pandemic contributing to higher divorce rates, alcohol abuse is up, causing parents to reevaluate their unions and make decisions in the best interests of their children.
In instances where divorce is imminent, establishing a healthy relationship with an ex-spouse is paramount. For some, adopting new behaviors and remaining amicable can be challenging, especially when one parent is addicted to a harmful substance like alcohol. However, it’s in learning how to successfully co-parent that can increase the chances of your children flourishing in their own emotional development.
What Exactly is Co-Parenting?
Co-parenting is continuing a relationship with an ex-spouse to ensure a safe and consistent environment for your children. Even though maintaining a relationship after a separation or divorce can seem difficult, it is important to elevate your children’s needs, putting their mental and emotional well-being at the center of every decision.
Like most relationships, co-parenting can look and feel different for every family. Some parents may fall into a rhythm easily, while others may need some time to pivot and adjust. If your ex-spouse struggles with alcohol abuse, for example, implementing proper safeguards surrounding parenting time may be critical to preserving child safety. If your relationship with your ex-spouse is at a point where you can maintain a working partnership around your children, co-parenting may allow you to remain a consistent fixture in your kid’s life.
17 Effective Co-Parenting Strategies in a Modern World
At its core, successful co-parenting is when two parents can put their children’s needs above their own in an effort to create a seamless transition for their family. Depending on the individual needs of children, effective co-parenting strategies can include: leveraging technology for improved communication, utilizing digital tools to help restore trust, and assembling a support network to air grievances or illicit advice. The following list details seventeen tips for improved co-parenting plans.
- Think about co-parenting as a new relationship with your ex. Instead of it being an intimate relationship, think of them more like a business colleague, where the “business” is your children.
- In situations involving alcohol abuse, consider limiting all interactions with your ex to when they are sober. This can help prevent verbal altercations where a child may be witness.
- Find other avenues for communicating your feelings, such as a friend, therapist, or other Licensed Professional. Learning how to navigate co-parenting may require expert guidance.
- Refrain from using your children as a means to vent. They may also be hurting, and speaking negatively about their parent may discredit you as a parent and add to their struggles.
- Now and then, check-in with your body. Co-parenting can take a physical effect as much as a mental effect, especially when substance abuse is involved.
- Remember that the main goal of interacting with your ex is to create a positive, secure, and consistent environment for your children.
- Do not use your children as referees or messengers. Remember, co-parenting plans can show your children how to handle conflicts with others. This means communicating directly and respectfully with your ex.
- Avoid using harmful rhetoric when referring to your ex. Terms like ‘alcoholic’ or ‘addict’ can perpetuate stigma regarding chronic illnesses like Alcohol Use Disorder.
- Foster structured communication with your ex by utilizing co-parenting apps. By digitizing your contact, you can make the process less argumentative for everybody involved.
- When creating a parenting/custody schedule, ensure all decisions support child safety. For example, incorporate remote alcohol monitoring for increased peace of mind during parenting time.
- Pick your battles. For example, a parent allowing children to eat certain foods or play video games shouldn’t warrant a conversation. However, both parents should agree on larger issues, like school choice, medical issues, and financial concerns.
- Be mindful of what is being said in front of your children. If possible, have discussions and disagreements in private.
- Be transparent regarding medical needs and school/activity dates. Withholding information from the other parent can create a hostile environment for your children.
- Establish consistent rules for the child, such as what kinds of activities are off-limits, curfews, discipline styles, and scheduling.
- Be receptive to a co-parent’s needs. If an ex is worried about your alcohol abuse, use Soberlink to document and provide proof of sobriety.
- Remain the adult in every situation. Even if that means putting your ego aside to make sure your child has a gift to present their parent for their birthday.
- Above all, be respectful. Not only does this make the process easier for all parties, it demonstrates to your children that even in adversity, two people can come together for a common goal.
Become a Conscious Co-Parent
You’ve heard of conscious uncoupling, but what about conscious co-parenting? Co-parenting isn’t just about drop-offs and pick-ups. It’s tandem practice centers on raising healthy, happy, and well-adjusted children, despite a disrupted family unit. It’s about making conscious decisions that support the betterment of your child, uniting in your choices to steer them towards a safe and secure future.
Remain steadfast in your approach and utilize all tools available to you to support your child’s best interest. In instances where alcohol abuse is of concern, integrate remote alcohol monitoring into the parenting plan to empower the addicted co-parent and provide peace of mind to Concerned Parties. Or, in instances where communication is flawed, introduce co-parenting apps to your ex for improved interactions.
Children’s safety is predicated on the health and wellness of their parents. Navigating co-parenting with your ex can be a daunting task, but learning how to lead with respect, communication, and integrity as you co-parent can help demonstrate to your child that their needs and well-being are the primary focus.
About the Author
Christie Hopkins has personal and professional ties to the Family Law industry. She has extensive experience working with families going through child custody disputes. Christie approached Family Law with attentiveness and care to ensure both parties feel valued and heard.