Co-parenting after splitting with your partner, especially if your relationship ended badly, can make raising the kids hard. The children are always the most affected when a divorce occurs.
However, this doesn’t have to always be the case.
You can still make it work for the two of you as well as the child even after the split. It will involve a lot of work and patience with each other.
Here are some tips you can use to make co-parenting with a difficult ex easier.
Co-Parenting With a Difficult Ex: 9 Tips
1. Set boundaries
Children need consistency for them to feel safe when growing up. Strive as much as possible to provide boundaries to what your kids can or cannot do. It is easy for you to feel guilty and want to seem like the “fun” parent by wanting to satisfy your child’s every whim. Your ex might do the same, especially if he is the less present one. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make your child disciplined, they might grow up feeling entitled instead.
If the ex insists on showering them with gifts and allowing them to engage in activities that might not be good for them, then try to keep things on your side as consistent as possible. Although setting boundaries might make you look like the bad guy at the time, your children will be grateful for what you did when they grow up.
2. Do not criticize your co-parent behind their back
Do not bad-mouth your ex to your children or anyone else while the children can hear you. Children are easily affected by the environment in which they are raised. Although their behavior might be getting on your nerves, you must never trash talk to the children. If you have to talk about your ex, try encouraging only positive talk, and not to burden your kids with adult issues that can affect them emotionally. Also, do not tolerate when your kids speak disrespectfully about your co-parent.
3. Be a team
Whether you like it or not, the two of you will have to make some major decisions that concern the child’s welfare. It might be difficult to communicate with each other without arguing at first, but you must present a united front to your children. Sit down and discuss how you want to assist your children to get through the transition. The children will like to feel that it is not wrong to love both parents and that they are secure even though things have changed.
4. Focus on your child’s needs
Co-parenting with your former partner is not about your relationship with them. Single parenting is hard but it is all about the children. Adopt a business-like attitude when dealing with them. The business here is the children. Stick to talking only on the things that have to do with the children. The child psychologist and the blog writer Sonia Bell advise being respectful with the ex at all times to avoid ugly confrontations.
It is no secret that you will sometimes feel like shouting at them when you feel they are failing their children, but never lose your cool.
5. Don’t talk on the phone
Keep the communication lines open. However, instead of calling each other, choose to communicate via texts or emails. With these methods, you have the opportunity to think critically before answering. You can choose what you should respond to and what you need not. Furthermore, this written communication will provide proof in case the situation gets worse and you need to go to a family court for custody or child support.
6. Don’t expect too much
When dealing with a difficult ex, it is better if you manage your expectations of them. Things can go either way after the split. If your ex was already too busy to spend time with the children when you were together, don’t expect them to have more time now that you are separated. Be ready to be flexible with your parenting schedule at times.
7. Have a support system
Parenting requires hard work. When co-parenting with an uncooperative ex, there are many days you will feel like it is too much and you can’t do it anymore. Having a support system, such as family and friends, will make it easier for you. You can vent to them and get advice on how to deal with the situation.
8. Go to court if you must
If you have tried everything and it is not becoming any better, it might be time you went to court. However, this action should be considered a last resort. You might need a family court to solve disputes, especially if it involves neglect. If your ex is being difficult and is not chipping in to help with child support or the two of you have issues with custody, then going to court might be the best solution.
9. Let the past go
Your ex might have hurt you in the past, but that doesn’t mean you should continue holding grudges, resentment, or anger towards them. To succeed in co-parenting, it is vital that you agree to let go of the past and begin a new page as parents. It is no longer about you and your ex’s feelings, it is about the children’s stability and security. Whenever those negative feelings come up, remind yourself why you are doing it. Have your kid’s best interest at heart at all times.
Breakups are always difficult, and they are much harder when kids are involved. If the co-parents are not on good terms, then the split can adversely affect the children. When the children are very young it is vital for them to spend ample time with both parents for their security and stability. As co-parents, you must always keep your children’s needs and well-being first.
Dylan Menders is a practicing psychologist and a freelance blogger, who currently runs SkinAnswer. He has professional skills to help people learn to cope more effectively with life problems. He is into writing articles where he gives recommendations on how to handle mental and health issues. www.skinanswer.com