Co-parenting: Small Changes Have Big Results

by Brette Sember

child walking away with parentWhen you are parenting after a divorce, you are working within a situation that is certainly not your ideal. Your dream was not to be divorced and to have to share your child's time in a rigid way. The whole structure of your life as a parent has been set and created for you to deal with. You may not be able to change that overall structure, but there are many small things you can do that will make the situation easier and happier for everyone.


I know you’re thinking "what??" Whether your situation with the other parent is high conflict or low conflict, smiling at him or her will make it better. Instead of always greeting the other parent with a stony face, try smiling. Smiling not only makes you feel better, but it has the effect of disarming the situation and making you both more at ease with each other. Smiling brings a hint of friendliness into the situation and this can have a huge impact on how you interact with each other.

Say, "Yes."

Just once when the other parent wants a schedule change, say yes without a big discussion or negotiation. Making one thing easy will lead to other things becoming easier. Proving to your ex that everything need not turn into a big deal can ease some tension between you.

Be on Time

Whether you're getting your child ready to go or are the one doing the driving, choose one day and be on time. No excuses, no rushing, no frustration -- all of this will help you feel and be calmer and more pleasant about your entire situation.

Choose Your Focus

Many people end up focusing on the conflict they experience with their ex. If you do a slight mind shift and instead focus on your child and what is best for him, you will find that you achieve significant positive results. Instead of thinking about how annoying your ex is or how irked you are at the situation, think instead about how visitation is good for your child, or how great it is that you are in a position that allows her to have time with both parents.

Present, Not Past

Another simple mind shift you can do is to stop yourself from thinking about the past, and instead think about today. You can't change what has happened in the past. You can however directly impact what happens today. Turning your attention towards the present allows you to have a great immediate impact on your life and your child’s life.

Brette McWhorter Sember is a retired family attorney and mediator and nationally known expert about divorce and parenting after divorce. She is the author of:

  • The Divorce Organizer & Planner
  • The Complete Divorce Handbook: A Practical Guide
  • How to Parent with Your Ex: Working Together for Your Child's Best Interest
  • No-Fight Divorce: Spend Less Money, Save Time, and Avoid Conflict Using Mediation

Learn more about Brette on her web site.

Copyright © Brette McWhorter Sember. Permission to republish granted to, LLC.