One of the harder aspects of single parenting can definitely be co-parenting with your ex! You may still have lingering emotions over your relationship or how things ended. If you do have some lingering feelings, it can be really hard to put them aside in order to put your kids first. But if your kids can still have a relationship with their other parent, your role is to help make that happen.
Related: Best Resources To Successfully Co-Parent
If you’re currently struggling with your ex, these strategies can help set up a more successful co-parenting relationship.
6 tips for successful co-parenting
1) Work Together
I totally get that working together may be the last thing you wanna do. Maybe there’s still negative feelings over how your relationship ended or maybe you feel salty about having more of the responsibility of raising your kids than your ex does. I completely get it!
As hard as working together may be, it’s gotta be done in order for you both to be the best parents you can be for your kids. You need to put aside any differences and make decisions that are in the best interest of your kids. Don’t let your anger or disappointment in your ex get you sidetracked!
For example, you can support your children in their successes together and come up with a plan together if they are struggling with something.
Did your kid do awesome in ballet or soccer? Did they ace a test at school? Send a quick email to your ex so both of you can celebrate the win with your kid.
Is your kid struggling to complete homework? Come up with a homework plan with your ex so the rules for homework are the same at both houses.
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.
2) Stay Out Of Each Other’s Business!
This often happens when either you or your ex want to keep tabs on what the other one is doing. Maybe one of you wants to know when the other begins dating again or maybe one of you wants to be besties with the other one.
This is often a bad idea because it brings your relationship to the forefront, when it should be about your kids. Trying to keep tabs on your ex or stay friends with them generally leads to bad feelings being brought up or things getting awkward between you guys.
Rebuilding your relationship for the sake of co-parenting is a good idea, but it takes time. You don’t want to be prying into each others personal lives.
One solution is agreeing on when you guys will introduce your kids to someone you’re dating. (For example, you both agree to not introduce kids to significant others until you’ve been dating for 6 months). That way no one has to ask and if it gets serious enough you can go to the other person and let them know you or they want to introduce the kids to that person.
Related: Dating Tips for Single Moms
3) Keep It About Your Child Always
Co-parenting is about your kids as I’ve said. Make sure you keep that as the focal point, so if things get hard between you and your ex, you remember why you are trying so hard to make the co-parenting relationship work.
Keep in mind the relationship you have or had with your ex, isn’t the same relationship your kids have with them.
Try thinking of your ex solely as your kid’s parent. This can help you see them in a more neutral point of view instead of thinking of them as your former partner.
4) Put Aside Personal Issues
Maybe he cheated, maybe you can’t agree on child support, maybe you can’t agree on visitation, or your ex is inconsistent with visits. Whatever the personal issues are, they can be incredibly hard for you to deal with especially when it affects your kids.
If you find that you guys can’t come to an agreement on your own you may want to try mediation or court to get these issues resolved and written down. This way, for the sake of co-parenting, there is complete clarity on what the decisions are and if someone isn’t doing their part, they can be held accountable.
One of the things I told myself when my ex and I first broke up, was I wouldn’t be the reason my kids had daddy issues. Meaning whatever personal feelings I had, I would never let that come between my kids and their dad.
5) Present As A United Front
Kids are smart and they limit test. Many times kids may try to play their parents against each other to get something they want or fight certain battles for them.
For example, your kid asked you if they could get a toy and you said no but they turn around and ask your ex if they can have that toy. Or your kid wants to go to a sleepover and you said no but they turn around and ask your ex. I’m sure you’ve done this once or twice yourself as a kid, (I know I have!).
But it’s easier for kids to try to get something from one parent when they don’t live in the same house. However you can combat this by maintaining a united front! Make sure you agree on how you’ll make decisions concerning your kids.
Do you want to text each other to double check what the other parent thinks?
Do you want to have a standard answer that you both give for certain questions? (For example, sleepovers, going to friends houses, going places alone, etc.).
Staying united in your decisions concerning your kids will help them respect you both more and makes for more consistency between houses, which is better for your kids overall.
Related: How To Discuss Separation With Young Kids
6) Have Boundaries Regarding Communication
Communicating with your ex can be awkward, hostile, or maybe you don’t want to communicate with them at all!
But for the sake of your kids, you have to make the effort to communicate with the other parent when it regards your kids.
Do your best to decide together what is acceptable in regards to how you will communicate with each other.
(Do you want to email, text, call, or communicate some other way?)
You may also want to set rules for how long each person should wait until they can contact the other party if that party can’t be reached right away. For example, if your ex calls you and you don’t answer, he isn’t blowing up your phone 100 times in a row trying to reach you.
Maybe you both decide a half hour is acceptable and then another attempt can be made. Maybe it’s an hour or more. Just make sure you both agree to whatever time limit you’ve both set.
If this type of communication is problematic for you guys or continues to be hostile, you should consider getting these communication rules in writing through mediation or court. That way the boundaries are clear to both of you and again, if someone isn’t following those boundaries, they can be held accountable.
While co-parenting can definitely be a challenge, you want to do your part to maintain a healthy relationship with your ex for the sake of your kids. Some ways to make it less complicated are; keeping your child as the focus, setting aside your personal feelings about your ex, creating a united front, and creating firm boundaries with their other parent.
Co-parenting can definitely be tricky and may not be a smooth journey the whole time. But if you can take just a few of these tips and apply them, you can have a more successful co-parenting relationship.
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