It is never easy when you have to part ways with the father or mother of your children. Regardless how difficult it can be, you will still have to keep a co parent relationship with your ex. This is not easy and can be exhausting and frustrating. Even though it might seem like an impossible task to interact and make decisions with your co parent, you should always remember that the primary goal is to keep the focus on your children. Below are some suggestions, based on my personal experience, that will help you get through difficult situations many people face while dealing with their co parent.
In order to co parent effectively you should always think of your relationship with your ex as a “new relationship”. It is now a relationship that is not about you or your co parent, but solely about the children. The marriage may be over but your family continues and what is in the best interest of your children should be your priority.
The benefits to those parents who co parent successfully right from the beginning are endless and, believe it or not, your children will recognize if it’s going good, and even more so when going bad. It is very important that your children retain a close relationship with both you and your co parent because it will help them feel secure and have a higher self esteem, which in turn will lend to a quicker adjustment period. You will notice that by ensuring these relationships exist with both parents your children will be better problems solvers, be more peaceful, and have less anxiety. A little effort early on can make all the difference in the world.
You must learn to separate your feelings from your behavior in front of your children. Do not allow yourself to talk negative or bash your co parent in front of your children. Remember he/she is still their father/mother and your children do not need or deserve any more sadness then they already feel about the divorce. If you need to get your feelings out talk to a licensed therapist or even a friend or relative, but never in front of the children.
When you must communicate with the co parent, each of you may think that the other one is demanding. Always remember that you must think about this co parent relationship as a “new” relationship. Make sure you do not demand information or answers from your ex. Demanding can cause hostility and you will not get anything accomplished. Make requests instead of demands. Always listen to your ex, then process what was said before you respond and keep all of your conversations “kid based”.
How the kids are doing is a small piece of what being a successful co parent. Think consistency, and if possible try being consistent when comparing the discipline and schedules in both homes. This will help your child/children experience less worry, nervousness and even feelings of displacement.
Show your co parent respect regardless of how much they infuriate you. Respect can be shown by using your manners, letting the other parent know about cute things the kids did while with you, being flexible with your schedule and taking their opinion seriously. Always say “hi” and “bye” to the other parent, especially in front of the kids.
When doing the “switch” with the kids always do drop off and never pick up. This is very important not only for you but for the child/children. By dropping off, the kids have no pressure of situations possibly being interrupted by the other parent. Kids will not associate the pick up person with putting a damper on fun they were having or a conversation that was taking place.
Remember to never sweat the small stuff, always show respect, and always make sure the kids are your number one priority and you can have a successful co parent relationship with your ex.