You and your former spouse came from different cultures, which may or may not have had anything to do with your breakup. One thing is for certain, however: Your child comes from you both, so both cultures are important to your child’s identity and well-being.
How do you navigate co-parenting after divorce across cultures?
Tips that can help you bridge the cultural divide
When you’re crafting a parenting plan that has to take into account two cultures, here are some of the top things you need to address:
- Holidays: Your special holidays may look and feel very different from your ex-spouse’s special holidays. They may not even occur on the same day. Advance planning (and a bit of flexibility) can allow your child to participate in both sets of important cultural and familial traditions.
- Values: Different cultures have different norms, but exactly what you expect from your child around these norms needs to be addressed before there are problems. Are pierced ears okay for both girls and boys? What about make-up? How much unilateral ability does each parent have when it comes to granting your child permission to do something like go on dates, change their hair color or write a blog?
- Religion: Are you and your ex different religions? That may not have been an issue before, but it could be in the future if one of you becomes more devout. What religious instruction or exposure will your child receive, if any?
- Traditions: Does either culture hold any coming-of-age traditions for a child? What agreements need to be put in place about those traditions today? For example, will your child have a Bar Mitzvah or a quinceanera?
The more you try to set some ground rules in place now, the easier it will be to navigate co-parenting in the future. Working with an experienced attorney can help you focus on the important co-parenting issues that need to be addressed — and keep you out of court in the future.