Parenting is very rewarding, but also very challenging. Furthermore, cooperative parenting has unique issues that are not resolved with conventional problem-solving skills. Though co-parenting isn't always easy, you can do it. It helps to be knowledgeable about some valuable tips to get you through the most challenging situations.
Common Co-Parenting Issues
Raising children as a team after a separation requires a special set of skills. Below is a unique survival guide for when the following co-parenting issues pop up.
Your Co-Parent Dislikes You
While it is uncomfortable to work with someone who doesn't like you, you and your co-parent must put your differences aside for the sake of your child. Because you two are no longer together romantically, your sole purpose now is deciding on what is best for your child.
If your ex attacks you with words or uses your child against you, do not attack them back, as that just adds fuel to the fire. Remind your co-parent that the situation isn't the child's fault, and avoid fighting in your child's presence. Instead, set up another time and place to have the conversation, such as on the phone after your child is asleep.
You Never Agree With Each Other
If you and your co-parent have been butting heads on important decisions concerning your child, you may have to do some of the following to resolve the issue:
- Compromise so that you can each get what you want and need.
- Set up a cooperative agreement by using a mediator, if needed.
- Avoid making decisions on the spot; remember that your child's other parent also needs to weigh in.
- Always think about the interest and well-being of your child.
Your Co-Parent Degrades You
When children hear one parent talk badly about the other, they become worried and sad. Not only does this put your child in the middle of conflict that really only involves the two of you, but your child may also view criticism of their parent as a criticism of themselves.
Contact your co-parent as soon as you find out they are bad-mouthing you to your child. Tell them that they have the right to feel how they do about you, but that it is not healthy to vent those negative feelings and thoughts when your child is around. If the situation doesn't get better, having a third party such as a counselor or mediator can help you address it.
Your Ex Breaks Agreements
If the other parent doesn't follow-through on the co-parenting agreement that you both had established, address the situation as soon as possible. This is important because your co-parent might like to test how far they can go without repercussions.
Tell your child's other parent that you will not stand for violating the rules you both set in place for the safety and well-being of your child. Tell them that if they feel some of the rules need to change, you can meet to discuss a new agreement. However, until that happens, both of you are to follow the current agreement.
If your co-parent continues to undermine you and violate your agreement, you may want to get a third party involved, such as a lawyer.
Your Ex Neglects Your Child
If your parenting partner hasn't been around to see your child in a long time, or has decided to no longer parent, you can't force them to interact with your child. Instead, you need to meet with them to discuss what they would like their role to be as a joint parent.
If they decide they do not want to be in the child's life, or they only want very limited contact, honor their wishes, but leave the door open if they change their mind later. Otherwise, you would be getting in the way of your child's relationship with their other parent, which is separate from your relationship with your kid. However, let your ex know that when they do decide to come back into your child's life, it has to be at a time that is convenient for both you and your child, as you do not want to jar or disrupt your child's life.
Your Co-Parent Ignores You
If your co-parent for whatever reason restricts your communication with your child, there are a few things you can do to still be in contact:
- Be honest with yourself about whether your calls and texts are too much or in violation of your co-parenting agreement.
- Respect your ex's time as you'd have them respect yours.
- Create a communication agreement with boundaries for the frequency and timing of non-emergency calls, texts, or video chats.
- Allow your child to communicate with their other parent if they ask to during visits with you.
You Disagree on Social Media Sharing
When you're both using social media to share information about your lives, it can raise questions about parenting practices. Both of you as parents should agree on what types of information or images about your child to share on social media, and which not to share. For example, if one parent is uncomfortable with a baby's or toddler's bath time photos being online, the other parent should refrain from posting such pictures.
Cooperative parents also need to be cautious of what they say about each other on public platforms. Negative and harmful social media posts can not only hurt your child, but they could also be used against you in mediations and court proceedings for custody arrangements.
Helpful Hints to Come Out Stronger
There are a few key things that you and your co-parent need to do in order to help yourselves and your child come out stronger after a divorce or separation:
- Communicate constructively with each other.
- Work as a team.
- Utilize self-care strategies for yourself.
- Work on forgiving each other for the sake of your child.
- Seek therapy if you need help coping with the divorce or separation.
- Seek help with parenting, if needed, through co-joint counseling or parenting classes.
Keep Your Eye on the Ball
Though you and your ex are no longer together romantically, you still need to put your differences aside and work as a team. The way to help achieve this is to keep your focus on the best interests of your child.