Hilary Duff’s Inspiring Co-Parenting Philosophy With Ex Mike Comrie

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Photo: Getty/Vincent Sandoval

When Hilary Duff announced her separation from husband Mike Comrie last year, she made a point of saying that she and Comrie were committed to co-parenting their son Luca, now three. So how’s that working out? Awesomely, according to Duff, who says she’s “really proud” of how she and her ex tackled their split when Luca was just three months old.

“We are a unit and we’re going to be a unit for the rest of our lives,” the now-divorced star of the new series Younger recently told People. “We realized [as a couple] we weren’t where we used to be. But I feel so lucky this happened when Luca was young because this is his normal now.”

Kudos to Duff and Comrie for recognizing early on in Luca’s life that their own relationship had hit the wall, and that separating and establishing a co-parenting routine was the right thing to do. But while splitting when a child is very young can mean dodging that painful post-breakup adjustment period older kids have to navigate, what really matters is that former partners vow to cooperate and co-parent kids of any age.

“The impact divorce has on a child is less about the child’s age and more about how the parents handle the situation,” Amy Morin, psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, tells Yahoo Parenting. “If parents can amicably split, kids are much less likely to experience the negative impact of divorce. When parents are able to successfully co-parent, kids still feel loved and supported, which is essential to their development.”

Even though they can’t articulate their feelings and don’t understand what divorce is, a parental split can be rough on babies. “A lot of people believe that the sooner a divorce happens, the better,” says Morin. “But divorce can be very stressful for infants and toddlers… . they pick up on their parents’ stress. Being separated from one parent for a prolonged period can also be stressful. When it comes to successful co-parenting, these pointers are crucial, no matter how old your child is when the split happens.

• Make sure kids get plenty of time with both parents. That’s important for babies too, who especially need the reassurance of frequent contact with mom and dad. “Predictable visitation also allows a baby to form a secure attachment,” says Morin.

• Stick to a routine. Kids feel safe when they have a routine to guide them, and it’s important for parents to maintain that routine, regardless of which parent the child is with.

• Resist fighting and bad-mouthing. No matter how bruised each former partner feels, “[w]hen divorced parents can communicate without fighting … children are likely to thrive,” says Morin.

• Cooperate to meet your child’s needs. That’s the essence of co-parenting: putting aside differences and coming together to support your child. It’s also about being supportive of your kid’s relationship with the other parent. Bottom line, adds Morin: “If parents cope with their own distress in a healthy manner, and take steps to reduce a child’s stress, it will be easier for a child to adapt to divorce.”

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