Co-parenting isn’t really co-parenting. It’s more like “taking turns being a solo parent” for whatever period of time you have physical custody of your child.
When you and your ex-spouse have different styles—which may have even been part of the problem in your marriage and led to the divorce—are there ways to make the co-parenting process easier?
Yes, but it requires being conscious of boundaries, which may not be easy to do at first. Here are six tips offered by experts and those who have been there:
— Accept that you need to trust the other parent to do the right thing and take care of your child when you aren’t with him or her. You may not love each other, but you both love your child.
— Accept that your way and your ex-spouse’s way of handling issues are simply different. Do not indicate to your child that you think that your way is the “right” way. Stress to your child that different people do things in different ways and that learning to adapt to different styles is actually a good thing. (If necessary, remind yourself of this as well.)
— Respect the other parent’s authority when it is his or her time to be the solo parent. Remember that you wouldn’t want him or her to undermine your authority when it’s your turn. Don’t sweat the small inconsistencies between households, like bed times.
— Do address large inconsistencies that are negatively affecting the child, like discipline issues and attitudes toward school work. Focus on the idea that you and your ex-spouse need to work together for your child’s well-being.
— Always treat you ex-spouse with the respect that you want to receive, even if it isn’t what you are getting. Experts say that children naturally tend to gravitate toward the parent taking the “high road” when it comes to those situations, if the other parent refuses to follow suit.
— Don’t pass messages to your ex-spouse through the children. Communicate directly so that you can build on the idea that you are both still in the parenting game together even though you’re no longer married.
If you find that your ex-spouse is completely adverse to working with you and actively trying to damage your relationship with your child, consider turning to an attorney for more advice about what you can do.
Source: Huffington Post, “Co-Parenting After A Difficult Divorce: A Delicate Balance,” Danilo Alfaro, accessed Feb. 24, 2017