How To Co-parent – Co-parenting with a separated partner can be a stressful journey even under the best conditions. When it comes to navigating child access challenges, the experience can often be incredibly emotionally taxing, causing feelings of stress, anxiety, and other overwhelming emotions. At Horizon Plymouth, we pride ourselves on helping individuals navigate such complicated situations and know that understanding and addressing these emotions is crucial for fostering a healthy co-parenting dynamic. Every child access experience is unique, but common stressful emotions that arise in such situations include:

  • Anger and resentment: These are common emotions in messy parental separations, but they can easily worsen communication breakdowns and foster a hostile co-parenting environment
  • Guilt and self-blame: Co-parenting alone can lead to the individual questioning their own parenting abilities and decisions, causing feelings of inadequacy that may hinder effective communication
  • Anxiety and fear: Uncertainty is a huge factor in parental separation and child access issues, and uncertainty often breeds feelings of anxiety and fear, especially when it comes to your children and feeling unable to control aspects of the unfolding situation.
  • Sadness and grief: The loss of daily interaction with a child can lead to feelings of deep sadness, as well as grief over the family structure that once was.

Although these feelings are all normal and expected feelings when it comes to child access situations, they should not be accepted as inevitable and unchangeable, as continuing on without dealing with these emotions can lead to serious negative mental health consequences. Working with a counsellor is one of the best ways to begin to understand and move on from these complicated emotions. At Horizon Plymouth, our experienced counsellors might recommend several avenues to approach your healing journey, including:

  • Emotional expression: It is important to have a safe and constructive space to express your emotions. This may include journaling, talking with a friend or therapist, or becoming involved in a support group.
  • Establish open communication: Even though it can be incredibly hard, it is important to foster effective communication between co-parents to improve outcomes for the children involved. Utilising communication tools and techniques can help you to express your concerns and needs without escalating conflicts and worsening negative emotions.
  • Develop coping strategies: Finding ways that work for you to deal with stressful emotions is important in improving your own mental health and resiliency. Although what works for one person might not work for everyone, common coping strategies include gentle physical exercise, relaxation and mindfulness techniques, or journaling.
  • Set realistic expectations: There is no one right answer to child access arrangements, and a situation that works for now may need to be changed in the future as the needs of the children change. Understanding that flexibility may be necessary and that adjustments may need to be made over time can alleviate the pressure associated with rigid expectations.

At Horizon Plymouth, we know that child access challenges are frequently emotionally charged, but counselling provides an outlet for parents to navigate complicated and stressful emotions and manage them more effectively. By addressing anger, guilt, anxiety, and sadness, parents can foster a healthier co-parenting dynamic. The journey is often not an easy one, but it results in improved mental health outcomes for both you and your children. The experienced counsellors at Horizon Plymouth can provide both guidance and support to navigate the emotional intricacies of child access issues and ultimately contribute to a more resilient and harmonious co-parenting relationship. If you or someone you know is struggling with the complex emotions surrounding child access, don’t wait to seek help and support. Contact Horizon Plymouth today to schedule your initial consultation and begin your journey towards learning how to successfully co-parent