Parenting after a divorce can be a painful process, but a “divorce coach” says great post-divorce parenting is important for your children’s well-being.

Deborah Moskovitch has three children. When she and her partner divorced, the children were aged one, three and seven.

“Even in a situation of high conflict, you can do it. It requires maturity, it requires patience and sometimes it requires looking the other way,” she told the CBC’s Maritime Noon. “Most importantly, it’s about putting your children’s best interests first.”

She says things like living arrangement, financial support and divided time can all be problems as families find new ways forward.

Moskovitch, who wrote The Smart Divorce, lived separately in the same house with the other parent for a full year.  

Her divorce taught her that if parents get caught up in the emotions, kids get caught in the middle.

“Kids were the pawns, in terms of: ‘If you don’t give me this, I’m not going to give you that.’ And ‘that’ means you’re not going to see the kids, or you’re not going to get the child support on time,” she says.

Moskovitch says a divorcing couple likely have different philosophies on raising kids. Those will become bright red lines of contention.

She says lawyers are often drafted in to help resolve disputes, but specialized social workers tend to be trained for dealing with emotional conflicts. It keeps you out of the courts and saves money, too.

Show your kids how to be grownups

“You’re the role models and you’re modelling how to handle conflict. If you’re showing them that mom and dad really can’t speak, that they’re always yelling at each other, or they’re arguing, it’s not good role modelling for your children,” Moskovitch says.

Some co-parents work best in face-to-face communications, but for others, that brings up old arguments. In those cases, Moskovitch says communicating by email or phone works better.

For email, she recommends not dumping five or six messages in one email and making sure you keep a neutral or pleasant tone. 

'You're the role models and you're modelling how to handle conflict.' - Deborah Moskovitch

“Just stay focused and stay factual,” she advises.

Start thinking of you and your ex as co-parents, with the children at the centre, rather than as a divorced couple with kids.

Moskovitch doesn’t recommend remaining in the same house unless it’s a financial necessity, as it confuses the issue for children and gives them false hope that the parents will get back together.