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Resolving to be better co-parents in 2012

Next week, people all over New Orleans will be starting in on their New Year's resolutions. People may want to start doing something, quit doing something or get better at something. For parents who share joint custody of their children, it may be time to resolve to be a better co-parent.

It is not uncommon for there to be tension between parents who are divorced. Battles over finances and property may remain as points of contention long after a divorce is finalized. When a couple shares custody of a child, though, the focus must shift to what is in the best interest of that child and his or her future.

There are a few simple tips that can help parents cultivate resilience in their child by co-parenting in a more effective way. First, manage judgments of the other parent. It may feel as they he or she will always disappoint, but understand that harsh judgments only widen the gap between parents. Loosening up on assessments of his or her behavior will certainly be a step forward in working together in a more effective manner.

A parent may also want to lower expectations of the other parent, and then manage those expectations. When a marriage ends, it may be clear to the adults that one or both of them did not meet the other's expectations. While adults are very aware of this, a child may not be. Trusting that the other parent will provide a safe and reasonably happy environment for a child may be all that can be expected. This expectation, although lowered, can be managed and will go a long way in helping a child feel safe and secure in the situation.

Finally, strive to understand that this situation is not just a court order or a custody agreement on paper. It is the environment in which a child will grow and thrive. A child is the one who may be travelling from house to house, splitting time with each parent. Understanding, on a very deep level, how difficult this may be for him or her may encourage one or both parents to make it as easy as possible.

It can be very difficult to put aside any anger, disappointment and rage one parent may feel towards the other. Resolving to work at this for the benefit of the child could make the next year the first of many happy years for everyone involved.

Source: The Huffington Post, "3 Tips for Being a Better Co-parent in 2012," Tara Fass, Dec. 27, 2011

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