Strategies for Healthy Co-Parenting

Dr. Grace Graham, an independent clinical psychologist, has worked extensively with families affected by divorce. Experienced in conducting psychological evaluations for custody purposes, Dr. Grace Graham has also spoken in various venues on the importance of co-parenting for divorced couples.

The strategy of co-parenting requires a divorced couple to raise their children collaboratively. This can be a challenge for a couple whose interactions often cause contention and stress, but studies have shown that this approach creates the most consistency and stability for the children involved. For this reason alone, it is important for the divorcing couple to learn and implement best practices for co-parenting.

Experts have suggested that focusing solely on the children may be the most important factor in healthy co-parenting. When an issue arises, the couple should remain unemotional and calmly discuss resolutions that would be in the child’s best interest. Stability is also necessary in such a child-focused strategy, as children thrive when rules are consistently observed and when both parents agree on particular limits. And finally, both parents must avoid making negative comments about the other one, so that children maintain a positive image of each parent and can rely on them as healthy role models.

Tips for Handling Co-Parenting Issues

For more than two decades, Dr. Grace Graham has provided treatment for individuals and families facing a variety of emotional and psychological challenges. In her role as clinical psychologist at Charis Counseling and Psychological Services, Dr. Grace Graham addresses subjects such as co-parenting.

Co-parenting is a reality for many couples who separate or go through a divorce. Here are three tips for undertaking co-parenting with a former partner.

1. Learn to cooperate and communicate. Being polite to your co-parent is beneficial to the well-being of yourself and your children. If there is an issue that is bothering you, talk to your former partner about it. In general, you should set a regular time to chat about co-parenting matters, whether through email, on the phone, or in person.

2. Think about your co-parent’s strengths. Regularly tell your children about the areas in which their other parent excels, such as cooking or organizing. Your children will see that you recognize the positives in your co-parent and you will cultivate a more trusting relationship with them as a result.

3. Leave children out of conflict. Maintain a respectful environment when discussing your former partner around your children. Communicate with your partner directly instead of soliciting information from your children. Distancing your children from difficult situations will help sustain their happiness in the long run.

Effects of Divorce on Adolescents

Dr. Grace Graham, psychologist, treats patients of all ages at her private practice in Plano, Texas. Dedicated to the well-being of children and youth, Dr. Grace Graham also performs consultations for the family court system and advocates for the best interests of minors.

Although the effect of divorce on young children has received a great deal of attention in the media and in psychology for years, experts are now saying that the impact on teens can be just as profound, if not more. The stability of the home and family plays a key role in adolescence, when young people are beginning to venture forth into the world. Although adolescents resemble adults in physical ways, they are still trying to solidify their sense of identities and learning how to navigate adult relationships.

For this reason, the dissolution of a parental marriage can significantly add to their levels of personal stress and confusion. As they begin to form exclusive, romantic relationships, teens look to their parents for examples. When the stable partnership that they have known all their lives breaks down, they often question the meaningfulness of commitments in their relationship or display other maladaptive behaviors in their own relationships. They might start distancing themselves from their peers to avoid hurt or pulling themselves too close, especially towards members of the opposite sex. And because divorce often causes teens to distance themselves from the family and act independently at an earlier age, they may lack the secure base from which to modify these behaviors.

Explaining Typical Teen Behavior

Dr. Grace Graham, a privately practicing psychologist based in Texas, focuses much of her professional attention on advocating for youth. Dr. Grace Graham, a court consultant as well as a psychologist, leverages her understanding of children and teens to ensure they receive the necessary care.

Because teenagers frequently act out in ways that seem disrespectful and defiant to adults, much of society views the age group as difficult. Adolescence is indeed difficult, but many who have passed the stage forget that it is most difficult for the teens themselves. During adolescence, the world places many additional pressures on a brain that has not finished developing. The teenage brain lacks the finesse of an adult’s in that the adolescent cannot fully control social impulses and may react to stress with undesirable behaviors or unpredictable ways. In addition, the teenage brain cannot fully understand the implication of risk, so dangerous behaviors may seem less dangerous.

With this developing brain, the teenager must respond to increased social pressures and judgments from peers, as well as a greater workload at school and the responsibilities of extracurricular activities. Adolescents must respond to this demand with a brain that is not only immature but also under the influence of hormones and, frequently, lack of sleep. In addition, as a teen’s brain changes, so does the way he or she processes information. Experts suggest that this may explain the overly emotional and often forgetful behavior of a teenager, whose cognition works differently than it once did.