Establishing a positive co-parenting relationship is one of the single most important things you can do for your child. Your child loves and looks up to both parents. It is important for your child to see and understand that his parents have a positive relationship and work together as a team. If you have a history of conflict and mistrust with the other parent, this may seem like a difficult thing to do. However, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of successfully co-parenting:
Establish a preferred method of communication and work on your communication techniques There are several websites and apps whose sole purpose is to foster communication between co-parents. Many apps allow not only for communication, but also document exchange and shared calendaring. Talking Parents and Our Family Wizard are two commonly used co-parenting applications. While communicating with the other parent, try making requests instead of demands. Starting out a sentence like, “Would you be willing to…” can go a long way with the other parent. Maintain a friendly and business-like tone. Keep the conversation focused on just the children. Avoid using insults and profanity.
Jointly attend a co-parenting class Attending a joint co-parenting class is sometimes the best first step you can take towards a positive co-parenting relationship. Like many relationships, miscommunication and lack of mutual understanding can lead to conflict and disagreement. Advanced co-parenting classes, which often require the parents to attend together, can help to address ongoing sources of conflict and help parents better understand each other.
Don’t put your child in the middle Avoid using your child as a messenger. When you ask your child to pass a message along to the other parent, it puts your child in the middle of the conflict. Also avoid speaking poorly of the other parent in front of the child or allowing others to do so. This can make your child feel conflicted, angry, or upset. If you are going to speak about the other parent in front of the child, be sure it is something positive, such as “You have the same smile as your mother.”
Change the way you look at the other parent Instead of seeing the other parent as your “ex” you should be looking at the other parent as “the mother/father of my children.” You need to separate the resent or anger you feel towards the other parent from the co-parenting relationship. Once you can make this separation and see the other parent in a different light, a positive co-parenting relationship will be easier to achieve.
If you find yourself struggling to maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship, don’t hesitate to reach out for a free consultation to understand your options.