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Co-parenting tips for a functional family

Co-parents rarely agree on everything after a divorce. Even after crafting a satisfactory child custody agreement, views on child-rearing may differ. Still, most dedicated co-parents understand that their children are going through a stressful time that requires serious adjustment and cooperation; kids are dealing not only with the split, but also with life in two households. Parents should remember that the primary goal in crafting a good custody agreement is to consider the best interests of the children. With that in mind, experts offer some tips to help reduce stress during the breakup and improve parent relationships with their children.

One of the most important things a parent should remember is a simple but vital part of co-parenting: Be on time. Experts say that trust can easily erode if a parent is consistently late for visitation and other events. Parents should be sure to leave extra time to beat traffic jams, and make being on time a priority. Children interpret promptness as respect.

Next, it is important to remember that both parents are still integral parts of the child's daily life. That includes school and extracurricular activities. Parents should ensure that they have planned their visitation schedule around all key school breaks, weekends and other important dates. Having a plan and remaining organized provides children with the structure they need to be successful at school and elsewhere. Also, clearly communicating expectations to children, even after the divorce, is essential. They need to know the rules of the home as well as visitation schedules. This added structure makes children more comfortable after the breakup.

Parents are also encouraged to use respect toward their children and ex-spouse, no matter how difficult it may seem. Children are watching the parents for cues on how to respond to social situations; a parent's focus, calmness and poise can provide a great example for youngsters who are learning to react to difficult environments. It is also important to remember that feelings about an ex should be kept private in the interest of fostering a relationship between the children and their other parent.

Following just a few simple social rules can transform an everyday co-parenting arrangement into a well-oiled, functional machine.

Source: Huffington Post, "Parenting after divorce: 10 ways to make your custody arrangement less stressful for your kids," Jan. 25, 2013.

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