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Successful co-parenting amid strain of divorce

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The relationship you have with an ‘ex' can be one of the most challenging you'll ever face. But, if you have children with them, then despite the obstacles, it's necessary to get along.

Good Day Atlanta's Tacoma Perry spoke with a family therapist who provided this important guidance on how to be a better parent.

Of course you love your children. But, getting along with your ‘ex' for the sake of your kids is too often easier said than done.

When you got married and had children, you never intended to have it all end in divorce. But, for Jodie Brown, and millions of other parents, it's a reality.

Jodie said, "The uncertainty and the unknown. The changes and the financial toll and the legal challenges, all of that was very difficult."

But, she and her now ex-husband were more concerned about the toll the break-up of their marriage would have on their three children.

Jodie said, "There will always be a need to communicate with the other parent, and learning to do that successfully was very important. Putting the children first as a priority, despite the feelings and emotions you feel toward the other parent, is very challenging."

That's why licensed marriage and family therapist Kathleen Shack says you've got to learn to successfully co-parent. She says in order to do that, you've got to first work on yourself.

"Those parents need to work on their own emotional baggage throughout the divorce. They need to work on staying emotionally stable so that the children see that they're going to take care of us, we're going to be safe. They've got it put together enough that we're going to be okay," Kathleen said.

And, she urges parents to never bad mouth their former spouse in front of their children.

Kathleen said, "To show the children at all times that you are going to work for their best interests and you're going to maintain that sense of family even though you're in two different households."

Divorce can be hard on you, but Kathleen says you've got to think about your children.

"If you can picture them in your mind or look at a picture of them before you respond to an e-mail or before you text back or before you pick up that phone, and you think of what's going to be good for them, then you'll have a good successful co-parenting relationship," she said.

Kathleen says communication is key. Turn the parenting relationship into a business relationship, where you find a way to be in contact with each other about the children without emotion. She also suggests subscribing to an online calendar to keep each parent abreast of important dates and events concerning their children.

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