Life is busier with a child in the family. Whether you are sharing parenting or parenting on your own, it can be easy to forget about working on adult relationships. Having strong relationships and good communication with other adults is important for your mental health and shows your child what healthy relationships are like.
Whether parents are in the same or separate homes, here are some tips:
- Focus on communication. Healthy communication is important. Try to hear the other person’s point of view even when you don’t agree. Plan ahead for how you will share parenting responsibilities.
- Expect an emotional journey. Parents have their own physical and mental health and changing roles to think about. Talk about your successes, challenges, hopes and fears.
- Appreciate your differences. When sharing parenting, you may not always share similar views or do things in the same way. Even though you may have different styles, what’s important is to agree on the overall expectations you have for your child and to be consistent as much as possible.
Talk it over
If you are sharing your parenting with extended family members, communication and relationship building are just as important. Be sure you are all clear about who is responsible for what.
There are many ways to raise a child
- Parenting differs from child to child, parent to parent and family to family. It can also differ by generation, community, country and culture. How you choose to bring up your child may be similar to or different from how your parents raised you.
Separation and divorce
Separation and divorce change a family’s structure, but not parents’ responsibilities and feelings for their children. Good communication becomes even more important when parenting happens between 2 families and 2 homes.
A separation or divorce is very stressful for the whole family as each family member adjusts to the change in their own way.
It’s important to make sure your child feels safe and secure.
- Assure your child that both parents love him and are still a part of his life.
- Help your child understand he isn't to blame. Children sometimes think they were responsible for their parents’ separation.
- Help your child to understand that he can’t change decisions you and your former partner have made.
- Follow your family’s regular routine as much as possible.
- Discuss your child’s feelings with him, and tell him you understand that he may feel angry and confused.
If you’re concerned about your child, ask for help from other family members or a counsellor.
It’s also important to try to maintain respectful communication with your former partner. If you and your former partner argue or fight often, it can have a serious and lasting effect on your child. Speak positively about your former partner to your child and other people. If you need to share negative feelings with someone, speak with a trusted friend or counsellor.
You may want to have a mediator (a person who doesn’t take sides or make decisions) to help you work out a plan. A mediator is trained to help you reach an agreement about parenting or child support that both of you will be able to keep. Find a mediator in Alberta or call toll-free 1-877-233-0143.
Support for families when separating or divorcing
Local libraries, community/public health centres and support groups offer a wide range of resources for families going through divorce or separation.
- If you and your family are having a difficult time, call 211 or Health Link toll-free in Alberta at 811 to learn about agencies that provide marriage or divorce counselling.