It can be hard enough for two married people to parent a child. After divorce, co-parenting with your former partner can be thorny. Follow these tips on how to cope with common co-parenting issues for the good of your children.
Badmouthing the ex
When you badmouth your ex (or vice versa), it affects your children. Children see parents as extensions of themselves, so if your ex is bad, your kids will assume some part of them is bad, too. Save the spouse bashing for your friends (or a therapist) and try to work any issues out directly with your ex. Around the children, keep negative opinions to yourself. If your ex badmouths you and you keep things clean, your kids will naturally take your side and avoid the drama.
Last-minute schedule changes
Everyone faces last-minute needs, so the occasional custody night switch should be fine. However, if your ex always cancels their weekend at the last minute or is constantly late to pick up the kids, it affects you. As children grow, their own desires may cause schedule changes. When possible, agree on rules regarding curfew, bedtime, and allowed activities. Then, decide on a case by case basis things like who will pick up the child from the movies or whether to re-arrange custody for a school dance.
Loss of control
For both sides, it can be difficult to relinquish control over kids when they’re at your ex’s house. Yet worrying that your kids are up later than usual or enjoying a different set of rules won’t help anything, and can only stress you out more. Agree on common routines and rules for the sake of consistency, then stop worrying about the things you can’t control.
Allowing your child to have their experiences
It can be painful to hear about the fun things your child did with their other parent, especially if the separation decision was not mutual. Strive to listen to your child’s recounting of their time at your ex’s house without judgment. If your child feels like you don’t want to hear about it, they’ll stop telling you about it. With this, your child will start to screen you out of their life. If you can listen without judging things, you will be rewarded with a fuller understanding of your child’s life.
Co-parenting strife affects your children’s health and happiness. If you and your ex cannot peaceably resolve issues, you may need to return to court. Your divorce attorney can help mediate co-parenting, custody, and other marital issues.