Dissolving any marriage can be stressful. If you have children, though, you may worry about how your divorce will affect them. Fortunately, divorced parents raise well-adjusted children all the time. How you co-parent your kids with your former spouse, though, matters.

Indiana has some of the highest divorce rates in the country. In fact, in 2016, roughly 20 out of every 1,000 married couples divorced. While you may not be able to save your marriage, you can work with your partner to ensure your kids have the best possible childhood. Here are five co-parenting tips you may want to try.

  1. Write a comprehensive agreement

Perhaps the best way to co-parent kids with a former spouse is to draft a comprehensive parenting plan. When you do, think about visitation, medical care, religious practices and other important topics. If you parent based on a negotiated framework, you likely decrease the chances of having future disputes.

  1. Put your kids first

To successfully co-parent your children, you need to put their interests first. To do so, try to practice some empathy. That is, consider the feelings of both your children and your former spouse. By considering everyone’s emotions, you can work to resolve conflicts before they arise.

  1. Choose your battles carefully

Even if you have a good relationship with your former spouse, you may not always agree with his or her approach to parenting. Constantly bickering, though, may foster resentment. Therefore, you must choose your battles carefully. Try only to bring up issues that have meaningful consequences, while letting small matters slide. Remember, there is more than one way to raise good kids.

  1. Communicate directly with the other parent

Asking your children to relay messages to their other parent is a recipe for disaster. Not only can this approach lead to disinformation and distrust, but it can put your kids in an awkward position. Accordingly, always communicate directly with your former spouse. If you can, try to bundle several topics into one conversation.

  1. Respect parental time

You love your children dearly and miss them when they are not with you. Still, constantly texting or calling your kids when they are with their other parent can cause trouble. Instead, try to respect parental time. By establishing a considerate precedent, you may also encourage your former spouse to respect the time you have with your kids.  

While co-parenting is not necessarily easy, your children deserve your best effort. With a bit of luck, patience and empathy, you can likely co-parent your children in a productive way.