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To succeed in co-parenting after divorce, be a co-partner

One of the biggest challenges of divorce is learning how to be a good co-parent. You and your spouse may have fought to the bitter end about everything under the sun, but if there's one thing you need to agree on, it's how to successfully raise your children under two households.

Believe it or not, divorce can actually be beneficial for children if it leads to less conflict and happier parents. But it involves work on your part, starting with cooperation. Think of your ex not as your adversary, but as your co-partner in the business of making your children happy and well-adjusted. Just as good business partners do, putting the needs of your business before your individual interests is crucial.

Businesses run by partners who don't talk to each other tend to do poorly, so make communication a priority. Many parents will attempt to sabotage their ex's relationship with their children by talking negatively about them or by buying children gifts to gain an edge over the other parent. Remember that you're not competitors, but partners. If you set out to destroy each other, your co-venture -- that is, your children's well-being -- is destined to fail.

It's also a good idea to lay down some "best practices" that both of you can agree to follow. For example, establish consistent bedtimes, homework hours and rules for other day-to-day activities for your kids so they know what to expect, and neither of you will have to worry about what's going on when you're not there. The same goes for visitation pickup and drop-off times. Be on time and ready, just as you would for an important meeting. The more consistent you are, the easier it will be for all of you to succeed.

Just because you and your ex don't work as a couple doesn't mean you can't work as parents. You only need to remain focused on the success of your children.

Source: South Florida Parenting, "Divorced couples should make children's well-being a priority," Melissa A. Tichauer, Feb. 1, 2012

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