Last week’s water cooler chat focused on successful co-parenting. A few colleagues said successful co-parenting with their ex began when the hurts healed from the divorce. Another said they can’t ever see being able to have a successful co-parenting plan in place because he and his ex are too far apart in how they run their lives and homes since the split.
While co-parenting is a challenge, it is not impossible. Successful co-parenting takes work. Continued communication, mutual respect for your ex as the child’s other parent, and a willingness to give up being entitled to your child more than your ex are a few of the comments that came back when I tossed this question into the world. Of the replies, here are our top three tips for successful co-parenting.
It’s not about you
Once both parents realize the happiness is for the child, dealing with your ex will become much easier. Remembering to communicate with your ex instead of through your child is also another reminder that sadly, few do. High conflict ex’s will typically use the child when they feel their position is right –at all costs. Keep in mind, the high conflict ex sees this communication as “ok” in their mind. The best way to bring the issue back to center is to not engage with the child in that discussion and instead, say to your child “Timmy, thanks for letting me know what is on your dad’s mind. I will get in touch with your dad and talk to him directly.”
Retraining your own behavior to remain focused on issues as they affect your child’s health and safety, dealing with checkups, school-work, or social activities are all to the benefit of your child. You can not control your ex’s behavior, only your reaction –and engagement, to their behavior. The high road will always benefit your child over placing your child in the “messenger” position.
Related read: Visitation: One of the Biggest Single Parent Stressors
Ditch the scorecard
I know many parents who spend a lot of time and attention tracking the days, hours, and sometimes, minutes of their visitation time. Once you understand it’s not about you, you will see that no matter which parent drives Timmy to soccer practice, has the extra few hours mid-week, or wants an extra day in the summer, will enrich the child.
While you may still view your ex as a slug, understand that this will always be your child’s mommy or daddy. And, in the continuum of time, let’s say 18 years for reality sake, that one or two extra hours he wants is not going to negatively impact the integrity of what it takes to be a parent. Timmy will more remember not being allowed to go to his friend’s birthday party because it fell on the other parent’s time than the two hours “extra” he spent with you.
Plotting, scheming, and other dastardly deeds
For parents who have mastered the art to focus on the child and they have long stopped keeping score with time, parents then should be on the lookout not for issues from one another, but for the child who, when he realizes that mom and dad don’t argue, pits one against the other to gain control or leverage in situations.
Many parents think that having a consistent rule is the idea, for example, “we do this at both houses,” the issue is really that your child understands what it means to comply. There will be rules, limits, and boundaries at school, at the parent homes, at grandma’s house, friends homes, and so on. Teaching your child to respect the rule rather focusing on enforcing the rule takes the blame off the parent (rightfully so) and teaches the child ownership of action.
Do you have a successful co-parenting tip that you’d like to share? We would love to hear from you and possibly feature your story in an upcoming blog. Visit PersonalBabyProducts.com andPersonalizedKidsPlates.com to stay up-to-date on topics, tips and articles written especially for parents. We welcome you to share, repost and re-tweet our news, ideas and stories with your social network.