Divorce is no fun for anyone, especially the kids. If your family situation is like mine there are times when they spend a lot of time with the other parent. Especially over the summer. For me, I drop the kids off and then stay around during their visits as a part of our agreement. This makes things a little awkward, but I guess that’s just the way life goes sometimes.
Parenting is a joy, and there are things we must do simply because we love our children. In a perfect world, it would also be easy. Unfortunately, things can get complicated – especially when we are co-parenting our children with an ex we do not get along with of if there are still court issues to be finalized. There are, however, many tips you can put to use that will help you co-parent successfully and with as few problems as possible. Here is some wisdom to help you with this difficult task and make the best of a hard situation.
Work as a Team
It might be difficult to consider your ex as a teammate after all you have been through, but it must be done if you are to be successful parents. Put aside your differences and make decisions without letting yourself get sidetracked by your anger or disappointment in your ex. Instead of thinking about the relationship the two of you had in the past, let it go and move towards thoughts of your child’s future and nothing else.
Don’t Get Involved Personally
Although you want to work as a team with your ex, resist the attempt to try to be best friends with them. This will only end in disappointment and awkwardness. Treat your relationship with your ex as a type of business relationship… neither too distant nor too close. You want to be friendly with each other, but you must rebuild the relationship in a way that no one is prying into each other’s personal lives. I always want to make sure things are clear, especially for the kiddos who are already doing their best to cope with the situation.
Keep Your Child’s Best Interests First and Foremost
Co-parenting is about your children. Keep that as a focal point, and you will be less likely to drift away from the purpose of this relationship. Consider your children only, and look at your ex as your child’s parent rather than as your former partner. As another person who should go to the ends of the Earth for what the kids need. If the other parent isn’t stepping up, keep pushing forward in the best interest of your kids.
Set Aside Interpersonal Conflicts
You might be fighting about a past affair or unable to agree on child support, but when it comes to co-parenting, forget about those disagreements. Stop fighting long enough to come to an agreement on each and every decision regarding your child. You will become better at this as time goes on. If you think of your relationship as a business one (no matter how hard that is) it will be easier over time to get things done. I still struggle with this sometimes.
Don’t Allow Your Child to Pit You against Each Other
Children are intelligent. When a child’s parents are bickering, whether the parents are married or not, children will most often use it to their advantage. As much as you may despise your ex and their decisions, don’t let your child see this. Stay united in front of your child, and they will respect both of you more. This was (and still is) especially hard for me. You have this want to be the “favorite” parent an at times can let that cloud your decision. Don’t do it.
Set Communication Rules and Boundaries
It can be awkward to communicate with your ex, and there are some who will abuse the ability to harass you with the excuse of co-parenting. Make decisions about how you will communicate. Decide whether it is acceptable to contact each other by phone, email, text, or a different way. Come to an agreement on how long each party needs to wait before trying again if not answered immediately. Get it in writing and have each party sign it, so the boundaries will be clear to you both, and anyone else who may get involved in the situation in the future.
For me, the best way is email and text. That way I can respond without emotion or I can come back to it later if I feel like I’m too emotional to respond.
Co-parenting has its challenges, but there are many ways to make it less complicated. Keep your child as your focus, and create firm boundaries with their other parent. You will be rewarded with a manageable co-parenting relationship that will help you care for the individuals you both love the most… the one thing you will always have in common.