Parenting is quite the roller coaster ride. There will be ups and downs, and you don’t know when the next twist or turn will come. It is a challenge for intact families. What is even more challenging is trying to navigate parenting issues with your former partner. It doesn’t matter how long you have been together or separated, co-parenting is often a struggle. There will be conflicting schedules, differences of opinions, and past issues from your divorce that can linger and even get in the way of your co-parenting. Here are some practical tips to help make co-parenting a more positive experience, and especially helpful for your child's sake.
1. Be Polite
To have a successful co-parenting relationship you must put the needs of your children above your own. So even if you struggle with issues with your ex, above all else, Be Polite. Make small talk, you can be brief, but friendly. Kill them with kindness! This simple gesture might make your life as co-parents a whole lot easier.
2. Communicate Regularly
Communication is the key to any successful relationship. Having to open up or talk about serious issues with someone who may have betrayed you might feel like a cruel punishment. But always remember to act with your children’s best interests in mind. Their interests are best served by having both parents up to date about the goings-on in their lives. When you communicate with your ex, do so directly. Do not use the children. If talking in person is too difficult, try civil texts, email, or even a parenting app to keep each other in the loop.
3. Get on the Same Page
Studies show that children function better in several aspects of their lives (academically, socially, mentally) when their parents work at their relationship. But just because you’re not married anymore doesn’t mean you can’t take care of your relationship as co-parents. Get on the same page when it comes to parenting. Children grow up so much more well-adjusted when their parents remain partners in child-rearing. For example, if your child has already asked their mother to go to a sleepover and she has deemed it inappropriate, don’t override her decision just to try and be the “cool parent.” Instead, discuss parenting decisions together as you would if you were still a couple.
4. Commit to Positive Speech
Did your ex break your heart? Cheat on you? Make your life miserable? These are all perfectly reasonable explanations for the not-so-fuzzy-feelings you have for them. But it is no reason for you to project your feelings for your spouse onto your children. Make it your co-parenting goal to ditch the negative talk in front of your children and only speak respectfully about their other parent. This is a major step that contributes to a happier family life.
5. Be Flexible
If it is safe to do so, be flexible with your schedule. For example, perhaps you have a court-ordered parenting plan or residential schedule, but your child’s father wants to take them to an amusement park on a day that isn’t his. Will you let them go? Spite or jealousy may tell you to say no, but ask yourself this: Will the children have fun and will the experience be a healthy bonding opportunity? If the answer is yes, be flexible and open with your schedule and consider letting them go. Not only will your children appreciate the gesture, but these types of concessions will foster healthy co-parenting relations with your ex.
6. Respect Family Time
Jealousy tends to rear its ugly head with divorced couples, especially when it comes to the children. This may make it hard to respect the alone time your kids are sharing with your ex. Let your kids enjoy the time they spend with their other parent. This means not bombarding them with texts or phone calls or otherwise interfering with their visit.
7. Share Accomplishments
The nature of co-parenting means that you aren’t always going to be there for the exciting moments in your child’s life — and the same goes for your ex. This can be hard to accept, so why not make things easier for each other? One great co-parenting goal that contributes to a happy family life is to share your children’s accomplishments with your ex. Even if you aren’t on the best of terms, you can still e-mail or text your ex photos of your child’s amazing report card, fun sleepover, or other accomplishments. For example, “Our little one had an exciting day today and I thought you would love to see some photos. Take care!”
Co-parenting is all about treating the other parent, no how toxic your past history as a couple may have been, with the same courtesy and respect that you would want. As a parent, all you have to is look at your child's beautiful face and know that you have all the reason in the world to make co-parenting work with your ex.
Family law litigation can be emotionally difficult and complex. Decisions made about each step of the litigation can affect you for many years. At Bains Law Firm, we have decades of experience helping our clients through the difficulty of family law matters, including parental alienation cases and can help you through the process. Contact us today at (253) 838 – 3377 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, to talk about your case.
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