It is challenging enough to co-parent when youre married and live together as a couple under the same roof. But to do it when youre separated or divorced brings in a whole different set of hurdles. In an ideal world, wed all love to take a leaf out of Kiran Raos book; she continued to remain friends with her ex-husband Aamir Khan. The couple separated in 2021 after 15 years of being married, but continue to amicably co-parent their child Azad Rao Khan. Another celebrity couple who gives us co-parenting goals is Hrithik Roshan and Sussanne Khan. Despite a rumoured messy divorce, they continue to stay friends, put up a united front, and attend important occasions together with their two sons.Not all relationships operate with the same ease though. Divorce often fosters negative emotions of bitterness, disappointment, and even betrayal, which can trickle down to the children involved. To keep this from happening, here are a few simple steps you can follow.Dont bring emotional baggage into the equationMarriage counsellor and life coach, Kripa Shah-Mehta, says, Whatever you may be feeling inside, your behaviour in front of your children should not reflect it. Instead, you can vent to other people close friends, trusted family members or even see a counsellor or therapist, if need be. Often, trauma from your personal relationship with your ex-spouse can influence how you behave or what you say about them to your kids. Children may pick up on this and mimic your response and behaviour. This is completely wrong. Their relationship and response to your partner has to be independent of your own. Accept that your conflict with your ex is not their conflict and set aside feelings of anger and frustration when youre with them.Communicate with your ex often, but dont try to force a friendshipUnfortunately, shutting off all communication with one another is not an option, if you have a child or children together. You do need to speak to each other to figure out how to navigate this slippery slope. This doesnt mean that you need to be best friends or hang out together. Treat your relationship with your ex as a business equation, just as you would treat a colleague in the workplace that you have no choice but to work with, says Kripa. Instead of constantly reflecting on what went wrong between the two of you, or bickering, focus on need-based communication about the kids. Keep your conversations limited to that and dont get too involved in your exs life, unless youre sure you can handle it. While communicating, it is also important to listen to what the other party is saying and process it, rather than just presenting your own point of view and expecting them to agree.Be respectful and maintain boundariesThis one is non-negotiable. You must show respect to the person you were with and chose to have children with. Dont criticise your partner in front of your child. This only makes your child feel like theyre in the middle of an argument between the two of you. Children whose parents disrespect one another are often under pressure to take sides. Resolve your issues independently and dont use them as go-betweens to spy on or pass on nasty messages to one another. Avoid being judgemental of your ex whether it is the new person that theyre dating, their overall lifestyle, or the reasons you broke up with them.Make a plan and stick to it consistentlyIf you want the process of co-parenting to work, you have to approach it as a team. What really worked for me was creating a set of joint rules that my ex-partner and I both adhered to with the kids, says Michaela Das, who got divorced in 2017 after being married for 11 years. We have two tweenagers and the focus is entirely on them. You dont have to want exactly the same things, but establish consistent guidelines with your ex so that your kids are not confused about rules that vary from one home to another. Whether it is expectations for academics, extra-curricular activities, curfews, bedtime, playtime with friends, holidays, vacations, pocket money, discipline, or anything else, my ex-husband and I agreed on a basic set of rules that we reached after a lot of debate and a little compromise. We always put up a united front before the children about these rules, so they cannot play us against one another. It is also comforting and reassuring for them to have two homes that seamlessly follow similar routines. Structure is extremely important for a stress-free childhood.Be emotionally present for your childrenSays Michaela, If youre divorced, it is even more important to be present for your children in the moment, especially since they have only one parent at a time to lean on. Try to drop them off and pick them up whenever possible. Listen to what is bothering them and stay neutral. If they want to spend more time with one parent than the other, find out the cause and see if theyre being reasonable. Most importantly, let them know theyre loved regardless of what happens.When you get divorced, youre ready to usher in a new life. With kids though, it is impossible to entirely manage that -- the stakes for their future well-being are high and youve got to cushion the change in their life, without focusing solely on yourself. Actor Jennifer Garner and her ex-husband Ben Affleck couldnt have said it better. 'We're doing our very best and we're putting our kids first, and that's how we're focusing on our day-to-day lives and we don't know what the future's going to hold, but each step that we take is one where we prioritise our children and everything else comes second.'