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How to Balance Parenting Roles Post Divorce

Divorcing parents should understand that while the role of being a spouse ends after the divorce, the role of being a parent continues and any parenting decisions that are made between you and your ex regarding the kids can affect them for years after the divorce.

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, one out of every two marriages today ends in divorce, with many divorcing families including children. Divorced parents are not only worried about the emotional impact on their children, but they are also concerned about how to balance their parenting roles post-divorce.

Following separation and divorce, the children’s time is usually divided between parents based on what is in the best interests of the child. The division of time children spend with each parent is specified in parenting plans, which detail how you and your former spouse will share your child post-divorce. Because divorce is a stressful experience for families, it can be difficult for many parents to negotiate parenting differences. Parents must continue to work to maintain an amicable co-parenting relationship for the sake of their children.

To balance parenting roles, you and your former spouse may look into parent education programs for help. It is common for there to be differences in parenting styles and parent education programs are designed to improve each parent’s individual parenting choices as well as assist parents in understanding the other’s style. According to research done by the Family Institute at Northwestern University, a frequent barrier to successful post-divorce parenting is when parents give in to the conflict that may have caused them to separate in the first place. For parents to achieve a collaborative status, they will need to devise strategies for conflict management, otherwise the children will be caught in the middle.

Research shows that men more often than women face obstacles in maintaining contact with their children after a divorce because mothers more often receive a majority of the parenting time during the allocation of parental responsibilities. Because mothers are more likely to be the caretakers during the marriage, courts often choose the mother as the primary parent. Regardless, the father needs to maintain a relationship with his children and maintain the parenting role he had before the dissolution of the marriage. Fathers who see their children less often after a divorce must work to remain an active part of their lives and should avoid being what’s known as a “Disneyland parent.” According to USLegal, a “Disneyland parent” is a noncustodial parent who indulges his or her child with gifts and good times during visitation and leaves most or all disciplinary responsibilities to the other parent. These types of parents attempt to create the best experience for the children by using their wealth, but parents should try and maintain a normal parent-child relationship at all times. Remember that you can’t buy the love of your kids, and by trying to do so, you are undermining your authority as a parent and undermining any limit setting. After a divorce, children need structured and consistent parenting more than ever.

Unless abuse is an issue, you are strongly encouraged to work with your spouse to agree upon reasonable arrangements for each of you to have parenting time with your children. Both parents will play an active role in their children’s day-to-day lives, and they will have to learn to balance their parental roles as amicably as possible. The key to successful co-parenting arrangements is how well the parents can function together.