Child custody in Singapore is seldom given to one parent unless there are proof that the other party is detrimental to the children. In most cases, the Judge will grant co-parenting for a divorced couple and it is up to both parties to work out a routine for the co-parenting to work. It is important that the parents are aware of how important co-parenting is and that whatever is done will have long lasting effects on the children, even in their adult lives. We have listed some guidelines below which we hope it will help to lift the veil on happy co-parenting.
1) Have an open dialogue with your Ex
Both you and your ex will have to come to a consensus on how to communicate co-parenting strategies and ideas with each other. You can do so via email, Whatsapp, SMS or voicemail if you couldn’t stand the look of each other. If the relationship between both of you is amiable, you can have face to face conversation.
2) Have consistent rules and routines at both households
Children needs routines and structure more than adults even if they may resist it. These routines and structure give them security and a sense of predictability. Issues like meal times, bed time, time for homework and helping out with the household chores must be consistent. Both households should agree on the time frame for each activity so that children know that rules must be followed regardless of which household.
3) Positive Talk
Do not allow your children to talk badly about the other parent in the house no matter how much you love to hear it. Talking disrespectfully about their other parent will damage the relationship between the children and the other parent. We are sure you do not want your children to talk bad about you in front of your ex too.
4) Agree on boundaries and conduct guidelines
Both you and your ex needs to agree on the parenting boundaries and children’s conduct guidelines. Raising your children on a united front (even when you are divorced) help the children to stay positive as there are consistencies in the house.
5) Agree on interactions with extended family
Discuss and agree upon the role of the extended family members, such as grandparents. This is important as children need to feel connected with both families and have a sense of belonging to either side of the extended family.
6) Remember that co-parenting is challenging and give it your all
Remind yourself that being accommodating to your ex is only for your children’s needs and well-being. It is never about giving in to your ex.
7) Be aware of boundaries
Children tend to test boundaries and rules when they are away at one parent’s household. Therefore, it is important for the parent to communicate often with the other and to uphold the agreed upon rules for the children.
8) Do ordinary things
Research has shown that children need to do ordinary things with the less-seen parents just as much as they do with the core parent. Therefore, plan to do some ordinary things with your children if you are the one who see them less often due to any reasons. Plan a trip to a grocery store could be a perfect chance for you to reconnect with your children.
9) Communicate changes in your life with your ex
It could be painful for you to receive news from your ex that he or she has a new partner. However, it is extremely crucial for you to know the changes in each other’s lives so that you could adjust your schedule accordingly to accommodate the children. It could also be that your ex is facing some difficulties or challenges and he or she needs your help to care for the children more often. Communicating directly with each other is a major part of co-parenting as you should not allow your children to become the messenger.
10) Recognise your ex’s strength and give him or her credit
Highlight the strengths of your ex and give him or her credit as much as possible with your children. By speaking positively about your ex, you show your children that you can appreciate positive traits about your ex even though both of you are not able to live together anymore. Little comments like “Mummy is better at cooking than I am, so you got to bear with the food I cook” or “Daddy is able to help you with DIY projects better than I can, but I will still do my best” goes a long way to assure your children that they still have great parents who are willing to forgo their differences for them.
We hope that you find these guidelines useful and that they bring you insights into happy co-parenting. Try it out and see how your relationship with both your ex and your children can change positively.