To co-parent after infidelity, you need to put boundaries in place and engage in a child-first mentality. Both parents must then develop and agree on when they will have the children staying with them. In the case of a divorce, this will likely take the form of a formal custody agreement. Be sure to remain flexible, as plans do not always go as planned.
Infidelity can throw a wrench in a marriage, as well as parenting arrangements. The act can cause partners to break up, forcing parents to find new ways to co-exist and raise their children. Not only is there a change in parenting arrangements, but there is also disharmony (fueled by mistrust, hurt, anger, and bereavement) between partners. So, how exactly do you co-parent after infidelity?
Co-parenting after infidelity can be challenging at times. But with the proper guidance, you will be able to navigate your way around new parenting arrangements.
Related Reading: Is Co-Parenting Harder Than Single Parenting?
Co-Parenting After Infidelity: Self-Care & Boundaries
When we deal with the hurt of being cheated on, it is easy to forget to take care of ourselves. Everyone deals with infidelity differently. Some may skip meals, while some excessively eat. Some self-medicate while some might stop exercising or neglect their basic needs. Be sure to rectify any negligent self-care that you notice or that your family or friends have pointed out.
Try eating healthy, balanced meals and regularly exercising if you are not already doing so. Not only will this help you feel better, but it will also improve your mood.
It is also essential to establish healthy boundaries between your ex-partner and yourself. If you have already agreed to separate, for instance, try and set boundaries of no personal talk, just business related to shared assets and co-parenting discussions. If you will be proceeding with a divorce, it is best to hire a qualified lawyer, as soon as possible, to advise you of your rights.
Tips For Co-Parenting After Infidelity
Here are some tips for Co-Parenting After infidelity:
Decide Whether to Mend the Relationship or Break Up
After infidelity, you have two options: stay together and work through the betrayal, or separate. While your friends and family may have good advice on what you should do, the choice is yours. Whichever choice you make, you and your child will have to deal with the consequences. But in the process, try to protect your kids from as much fallout as possible.
Do Not Confide in Children After Infidelity
After parents are separated, children may be caught in the middle. This is because one or both parents may use their children as confidants. In order to influence the child away from the other parent, they may at times speak negatively about them, while others may not realize the impact confiding has on their children’s perspective.
Allow children to be children. If you’re unsure what you can and cannot share, here’s a general rule of thumb; adult issues/problems should stay with adults, not children. If you feel you need someone to talk to, try and seek support from a therapist, your pastor, or friends and family.
If you struggle to overcome infidelity, visiting a licensed therapist may be helpful. You can process unresolved emotions with the help of a therapist, which will benefit you in the long run.
Develop A Co-Parenting Plan
Once you decide to co-parent, it is time to develop a co-parenting plan. This plan will outline the days each parent plans to have their children. For example, one parent might have the children for three days, and the other parent may have them for four; then, the parents swap days. Or children can live with one parent during the week and visit the other parent over the weekend.
Plans should be a mutual agreement between both parents. Don’t forget to seek input from your children, as they might have some out-of-the-box ideas. Remember to be flexible. Life does not always go as planned.
Set Consistent Rules When Co-Parenting
It is important to set consistent rules when co-parenting. As a result, the children will not have to bounce back and forth between two completely different sets of rules. The rules do not have to be exactly the same, but it is best if they are similar and consistent. The same concept applies to disciplinary actions.
If rules are broken, aim for disciplinary measures that are similar and consistent. It may cause friction if one household has disciplinary measures for broken rules while the others do not. Some ex-spouses may prefer to have a ‘rule-free’ environment, to gain the favor of the child. This may cause tension while co-parenting, so it is best to set rules and agree upon consistency from the onset of co-parenting.
These rules should also take into account things like how soon into a new relationship you will introduce a new partner to your children, something you should mutually agree upon and both be comfortable with.
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Use a Child-First Mentality
As the aftermath of an affair unfolds, it is easy to become swept up in the emotional turmoil. After all, how else would one react? However, the problem lies not in whether you react but in how you react. In dealing with our own emotions and turmoil, it is very easy to turn our attention away from our children and into ourselves. Some may not even know that their attention has shifted.
That’s why it is essential always to keep a child-first mentality. To do this, you must be actively aware of your priorities and where your attention is focused. Keeping a child-first mindset will help you make better decisions for your child or concerns around your child.
Additionally, some parents may believe that their children are unaware of the infidelity; and if they do not know about it, no harm is done, right? Not exactly. Even if children are not explicitly aware of the infidelity, they will pick up the aftermath of it from both parents.
Children can pick up changes in behavior, attitude, speech, absenteeism, etc. So, it is essential to realize that your child is impacted by the infidelity, whether they consciously know about it or not. It is best not to “bad-mouth” or discuss your ex with your children unless they are old enough to actually understand the situation and have it explained to them transparently. Younger children do not need to know the particulars of why their parents are no longer together, just that they both love them and will continue to act together as parents.
Use Acceptance Principles After Infidelity
For some, it may be tempting to run away from the emotions caused by infidelity. You may find yourself working more or running errands never to have a break where you will be left alone with your thoughts. Or you might completely block your ex-partner out of your mind, along with all the negative emotions. This may not even be something you are aware of.
You can also train yourself to look at thoughts from a distance instead of from them. For instance, you may have a thought that says, “I am so worthless.” In this case, you can say, “I have feelings of worthlessness right now.”
Another helpful technique is learning how to be present. Being present means that you are focused on the here and now and do not judge the experience or try to change it. It may be hard to be present in turbulent times, but with enough practice, you’ll be able to do so in no time.
Continue Reading: Why Is My Boyfriend Jealous of Co-Parenting Relationship?
Co-parenting after infidelity can be challenging as you adapt to new parenting arrangements. Always keep a child-first mindset and be sure to remember to engage in self-care and set healthy boundaries. Acceptance principles can also be used to help you process infidelity.
It is best not to confide in your children but rather to seek support from friends, family, or a therapist. Lastly, when co-parenting, try to develop an agreed-upon schedule with consistent rules and disciplinary measures between households. In general, it is best to keep your relationship with your ex-partner amicable and communicate through parenting arrangements as much as possible.