If you are finding yourself in the position of becoming a co-parent, you will have two choices: it can either be done the easy way or the hard way. If you are striving for the easy way, congratulations, that is the best choice for both you and your children. The way you handle these problems day-to-day will be witnessed and subconsciously recorded by your children and they will need a good example to work off of.
If you want to keep this healthy relationship going, it would be a good idea to adopt a few strategies to keep things as pleasant as possible. Read on for our tips to establish a healthy co-parenting relationship.
Keep communication open
The key to any relationship is communication, and that goes double for co-parenting. It is important to run any and all decisions past your co-parent. Everything from scheduling changes to whether to get their ears pierced must be discussed and agreed on.
Communication is an idea that runs through the entire length of this list. In order to be good at any of these strategies, you have to be open to discussing everything. Remember that there are two people here making decisions. If you’re struggling to communicate with your partner, relationship experts from HealthCanal highly recommend taking family therapy before chronic problems communicating take a toll on your relationship.
But establish boundaries
Particularly, if you are co-parenting with an ex, it is vital to set up boundaries. Your home is not theirs anymore, so they cannot swan in without invite. That is a small example of a boundary, but it can go long way to making you feel secure and in control of your decisions. You can set others, big and small. You can ask them not to contact you unless it is about the children, or to turn up unannounced.
On the other hand, for your own sake, you will have to come to terms with what is no longer your business. You have no say in who your co-parent dates and whether they introduce their partner to your children unless it is outlined in your custody agreement. They no longer have to consider you in their decisions, but your child and sometimes it is hard to recognize the difference. But recognizing the difference is the way you set a good example for your children when it comes to disappointments.
Nail down your schedule
Make sure you and your children’s routine is nailed down. Routine is important to establish security. Your children will know they are safe with you and not confused. It’s important its stuck to as much as possible. A diary full of penciled-in events isn’t going to do.
If you have reached a healthy level of communication, this should be easy, but everyone can make it easier by using a shared calendar. Google Calendar is the most popular example, which means it’s likely that you are already using it, avoiding another fight. Events in your Gmail account will be added automatically so that your partner knows about the Nativity Play as soon as you do, and your partner will be able to see when everything is scheduled.
Adapt a flexible attitude
This strategy does well for divorce, too. A healthy divorce negotiation, including the divorce finances, will require some compromise. An unhealthy one will too but you will be forced to compromise, which will feel much worse.
Children are chaotic creatures that are unpredictable, that’s even before mentioning the curveballs that life, in general, can throw you. If you want to make this work well, you will need to be flexible in your everyday life. As much as a routine is healthy if something falls through or is interrupted, it’s important to be willing to shake it up temporarily.
Even if you think you wouldn’t be offered the same courtesy, you should be willing to bend when you need to. It will be more beneficial than the ongoing arguing that can ensue.
Agree on the big things
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can try and improve here. The big things are big things, and therefore you will feel strongly about them, it’s merely a sign of a healthy co-parent relationship if you agree on the big things without much arguing.
If you don’t agree on everything, the lesson here is to pick your battles. If you don’t care about, say, religion, but your ex-partner does, then allow your kids to go to church or a catholic school.
When it comes to the big things you don’t agree on, try to be as calm as possible while explaining your side. You won’t get anywhere by appearing hysterical or unreasonable.
Hopefully, the mere fact that this is a person you once chose should indicate that you were once on the same page about the basics, but of course, life isn’t often that simple. In a lot of cases, co-parents have used a written parenting plan to negotiate the big things and gain a healthy level of communication.
No one is going to care if you just needed to blow off some steam about how much you hate your ex, your child can’t hear it. Rant to anyone else. You will have friends, family members, hotlines, any support system available, but it is not your child’s responsibility to support you, and it puts on a lot of pressure to enforce it on them.
So, no snide remarks, no rants, and no trying to control allegiance. Your child needs you and your child needs your co-parent. To inflict your opinion on your child could destroy either their relationship with the co-parent if they listen to you, or their relationship with you if they don’t.
The healthiest relationships would mean that you don’t feel the need to, but life’s rarely that generous. You will have to work hard to establish a healthy relationship with your co-parent, but the best relationships build on the foundational recognition that each parent has a purpose and are vital to the growth of your children.