Editor’s Note: This article was written by Our Small Hours guest poster Amy Patterson. Amy Patterson is an avid reader on trending topics and a freelance writer in her spare time. On the beautiful coast of North Carolina you will usually find her catching up on the latest news with locals or on the beach with her two kids. She loves to write pieces on family and parenting, but also writes about health and fitness as well.
Overcoming Difficulties When Co Parenting With Your Ex
After a divorce it’s likely that you want very little to do with your ex, but if you have children together, you won’t be able to make a clean break from your past relationship. According to Teddy, Meekins, & Talbert, Attorneys at Law, issues involving children are some of the most difficult aspects of divorce. Parents want to do what is in the child’s best interest, but the former spouse’s behavior and actions may fuel negative emotions. There may be many things about your ex that drive you crazy and the way he parents may be one of them, but you’ll have to find common ground for the best interest of your child.
While co-parenting with your ex may be difficult and even emotionally draining at times, it’s important to keep your child in mind and consider what is best for him or her. Here are some tips to keep co-parenting with your ex healthy and civil:
Why Should You Co-Parent With Your Ex?
Before you and your ex decide how you’ll successfully co-parent together, it’s important to remind yourself why the two of you should make it work. Remember, even if your divorce has left you jaded, your child could be feeling a variety of emotions, too. Here are some benefits of co-parenting:
- Children develop feelings of stability, are less likely to feel torn between parents, and are more likely to continue lifelong relationships with both parents.
- If you’re successful at co-parenting, you’re less likely to argue in front of your children and the children no longer feel the pressure of being mediators.
- The relationships that your children have with you and your ex are more likely to be happier and of higher quality, as your focus will be on them rather than a crumbling relationship.
Common Co-Parenting Difficulties and Healthy Ways to Overcome Challenges
While you work through some of your post-divorce emotions it’s important to remain civil and respectful to your ex, particularly in front (or in earshot) of your child. You’re likely to face some difficulties and disagreements, but there are ways to get through it:
- You can hardly stand the sight of your ex and you hate how “happy” he seems to be: As with any break-up, these types of feelings are natural, but you’re going to have to figure out how to channel those feelings elsewhere. Exposing your child to these kinds of feelings can be toxic. Find a different outlet for expressing your feelings like counseling or an evening out with friends.
- He always seems to be the “fun” dad and you’re stuck with homework and “real life” stuff: You and your ex can not play “good parent, bad parent”. It’s childish and it’s not helpful to your child at all. You and your ex will have to come to some sort of mutual agreement about homework, household chores, and other routines that will help your child thrive in both homes. That said, be flexible when your ex plans something special with your child; don’t see it as a way for him to “one up” you.
- We disagree on everything: If you disagree about everything, stop immediately. It’s important to be on the same page about important things such as education, financial situations, and medical care, but if you’re going to spend your time disagreeing on small differences in bedtime, dinner options, or gifts, you’ll be wasting a lot of energy.
Another thing to keep in mind, unless you’re ready to hear how your ex critiques your parenting, you should think carefully about how you approach things you don’t like about his parenting. You don’t have to sacrifice your role as a parent, but by showing a little understanding and flexibility will make you and your child happier.
Resources for Successful Co-Parenting
Here are some of Our Small Hours’s favorite resources for successful co-parenting.