Angela Kinsey, one of the stars of TV hit show The Office, was recently interviewed by She Knows Parenting in a pre-holiday interview published in December. The actress talked about what it is like to deal with being a co-parent with her daughter's dad. They have been divorced since 2009.
Her advice? To always remember that children need to come first. Here are five good rules of thumb to keep in mind as you prepare to co-parent your children following a divorce.
1. Don't badmouth the other parent to your child. To the child, the other parent is mommy or daddy, and you need to always keep that in mind when the children are around.
2. Don't tell your child details about the legal proceedings that they don't need to know. Children must be reassured with concrete information about living arrangements, school, and continued access to favorite friends and family. Keep opinions about the other parent's bad behavior to yourself.
3. Be considerate of the other parent's time and availability when scheduling visits. It's just common courtesy to do this, and it makes for a much more pleasant experience for you, the other parent and your children.
4.Keep communicating with the other parent, but keep it to just what is necessary, especially if hard feelings remain. Logistical arrangements, your child's school, diet, health care and parent visits are all important topics to share. The two of you may always be a part of each other's lives, but that doesn't mean that you have to remain in contact about personal goings on in your life.
5. Focus on the child's needs and feelings. This is probably the most important rule of all. Your children need to know that the breakup of their parents was not their fault and that their needs and their feelings always come ahead of disputes with the other parent.
If you are in the midst of divorcing or ending a relationship involving a child, it is important to work with a qualified family law attorney who can protect your child custody rights and help you to work out an amicable co-parenting arrangement with the other parent.