Co-parenting is not easy. That’s a given. As expert and family law practitioner Alisa Peskin-Shepard put it, it is simply unreasonable to expect two people who could not get along while married can suddenly co-parent without help.
There are a number of reasons co-parents find it such a task to get along and come to agreements. Emotions get in the way, whether they be anger, resentment, jealousy, or other forms of hurt. But when it comes down to it, pettiness only gets in the way of raising the children in a positive atmosphere.
It may seem impossible, but there are some tips and tricks that can help. Here are six to keep in mind, brought forward by experts in the field and parents who know what it’s like.
- Take Time to Reflect – Consider the ways in which your behaviours and actions are affecting the children. See things from there perspective in order to get a better handle on the big picture. When you are feeling frustrated, the thought of keeping your little ones happy can be a great way to calm down and see things a little more clearly.
- Play to Your Ex’s Strengths – Whenever possible, try to structure a situation so that the other can use their greatest talents. If you are both feeling useful and respected, there is less reason to feel bitter. As co-parents you are not in anything alone, nor can you ever function outside of the team. Every decision made impacts the other. Stay mindful of the best way to keep the peace in every scenario.
- Make Cooperation a Priority – You don’t have to be friends, but you do have to get along. This means making the best of every situation, and putting the competition aside. Keeping the lines of communication open is the best way to ensure neither parent feels left out or brushed off. Putting all of your plans in writing is a great way to keep everything clear as can be.
- Know that Control is Unnecessary – Trying to control every decision your ex makes probably did not work out when you were a couple, and it won’t work now. It’s likely that your ex will do thing, say things, or set rules that you don’t agree with during there time with the kids. But that’s ok as long as the child’s health is not in danger. Try not to stress over what is happening on the other’s time. Instead, focus on how you can make your time count.
- Leave Your Ego Out of It – Your child’s love is not a prize to be won. Your divorce or separation is not a competition. There is no winning and no losing. All there is is making it work. Trust that, like yourself, your ex loves your child and is willing to bend over backwards for their happiness. Resist the urge to nit-pick, yell, or call names. There is certainly nothing to be gained from that, and in the process you may even lose your child’s respect.
- Stay Above the Anger – Not giving into your own anger is just part of the process. In order to stay level-headed and positive, you must also put a stop to any mean words your family and friends may have to share about your ex. What’s done is done and the past cannot be dwelled on. As much as your support system cares about you, you have to make them understand that for your own good you have to move on.
These tips may seem a bit obvious, but they are all easier said then done. In order to find your sanity and co-parent effectively, you have to be willing to accept the obstacles and be ready to overcome them each and every day.
For more support, visit m.helpguide.org