Although you’ve decided not to continue your relationship with your kids’ other parent, this doesn’t mean that spending time together with everyone has to end. Done carefully and wisely, it’s possible to spend time together – both parents and kids – even after separating. As long as the time together is positive and affirming for everyone, the end result of family time should be win-win for all.
Plan an activity with a specific beginning and ending time to create boundaries and limits in the time spent together, advises the News for Parents website. Generally, an active date where you are busy doing something such as playing at the park or meeting somewhere for a snack are ideal because it keeps everyone busy and distracted.
Set ground rules for the time spent together to ensure that it stays positive. For example, you might agree that you will not talk about personal differences or any issues connected with the separation or divorce. Discussing adult issues in front of children can be harmful and hurtful, warns the California Court website. Ensure that both parents agree to the ground rules for the kids’ sake.
Display a positive and respectful attitude as you spend time together. Smile and interact in a comfortable and enjoyable way between parents and kids and parent to parent. The goal of the outing or the date is to give your kids a happy and positive experience with both parents together. Part on friendly terms at the end of the outing.
Plan additional outings as long as the experience was positive for everyone. With a positive experience, you might even broaden the dates to include longer outings and more time together if everyone desires it. Some co-parents even take trips and vacations together as a family, states the News for Parents website. Before proceeding with an extended outing, ensure you have a firm understanding about expectations and boundaries. For example, if you take a trip, you will probably need two hotel rooms and you will need to make an agreement for splitting expenses equitably.
Over time, spending time together as a family may become more complicated. If one or both parents remarry, the creation of new families may reduce the appropriateness of spending time together as a co-parenting family.