Whether you negotiated with your spouse about responsibilities during the pregnancy or fell into a natural rhythm when you brought your baby home, you and your ex likely shared the responsibilities that come with parenting.
Perhaps your ex was the one that handles all of the first aid needs because you get dizzy at the sight of blood. Maybe they were the disciplinarian while you were the one to comfort and calm the children down. Now, like it or not, your responsibilities and roles as a parent will change because of your divorce.
You will need to fulfill all major needs for your kids when it is your parenting time, ranging from cooking from them to discipline. That may require some practice or self-education through parenting books and support groups. What is your real role as a parent during and after divorce?
Your role is still to protect your children
One of the primary functions a parent serves is protecting their offspring from all sorts of threats and sources of harm. That responsibility won’t change when you divorce, but the sources of harm could be different than before.
The emotional arguments you have with your ex or your negative feelings toward them can be hurtful for your children. Trying to insulate them from the negativity of the divorce can protect them from some of the damage often associated with parental divorce. There are situations where going to court to protect your kids is necessary, but most parents are able to maintain a positive relationship despite the obstacles of divorce.
Your role is to be supportive and focus on the best interests of your children, not on pleading your side of the situation to them or trying to make them love you more than your ex.
Your role as a co-parent will require patience and forgiveness
Sharing custody with your ex or co-parenting is one of the biggest challenges after a divorce. You will have to set your emotions aside to focus on your children’s adjustments to your new family circumstances.
There may be times when you or your ex stumble and become aggressive or overly emotional. Divorcing parents also sometimes put their own selfish needs ahead of the kids. You have to be ready and willing to forgive yourself and your ex when issues arise.
Being flexible and willing to adjust your parenting plan occasionally to accommodate your ex’s needs can go a long way toward developing goodwill in your new relationship. Assuming positive intent can be effective in maintaining a relationship that works in the best interests of your children.
Focus on protecting your children, keeping a stable home and maintain calm interactions during custody exchanges. You will do a good job filling your role as a newly divorced parent, even if you do make occasional mistakes.