"How are we going to co-parent our child as two separate households
rather than as one home? What if my ex-spouse gets our child a high-cost
toy I cannot afford? Should I get a similar toy for our child?" Divorcing
parents in Georgia and elsewhere are asking these and other similar family
Co-parenting is one of the most difficult issues in a divorce. But it is
always in the best interests of the child for the parents to focus on
the child rather than competing with one another for the child's love.
In a divorce, many parents tend to compete with one another for their children's
attention and love. Sometimes, children catch on to this behavior and
play their parents against one another. To prevent this behavior, parents
should attempt to see their situation in a different light. The children
love each parent. Therefore, parents should focus on the ultimate goals
of parenting: keeping the children happy and physically and emotionally healthy.
Rather than competing over the expense of gifts, parents might consider
using the opportunity for more one-to-one engagement; perhaps asking the
child to show how a new device works, or perhaps somehow playing with
the new gift with the child. If an ex-spouse plans to take the children
on a fun vacation, a parent should be happy for them rather than trying
to book the same trip earlier to "come in first."
If the ex-spouse insists on being competitive, the parent can always just
simply say nothing at all. Not responding to the ex-spouse's competing
behavior may take away the fun in the competition. Rather than compete,
parents should be present with their children to listen and play and create
memories with them.
In a divorce, parents must either collaborate together or submit to a court
ordered child custody agreement. A child custody agreement determines
both the legal and physical custody of the child. Legal custody refers
to decisions about the child's well being, which includes decisions
on education, religious upbringing and medical care. Generally, legal
custody is awarded to each parent. Physical custody refers to the daily
care of the child and where the child primarily lives. Sometimes this
is equally split between the parents.
Co-parenting as divorced parents may be challenging. However, it is important
for parents to remember the children's best interests when making
custody decisions and interacting with their ex-spouses.