It’s for them, not us!
Co-parenting means that the parents are no longer together, but are still working together to raise their child.
It can be very challenging to co-parent, especially since most break-ups don’t really end on a positive note. There is usually still a lot of anger and resentment there. You don’t want to have to see this person ever again and now you have to. You are reminded of all of the bad times when you see them and you can feel your heart race and your blood boil. I have been there.
After going through the ups and downs of co-parenting myself I have learned some very valuable lessons. I have also been able to go from not being able to have one conversation on the phone with him to being able to talk for 30 minutes and even having a laugh or two.
There really is no magic trick to co-parenting and everybody has a different situation. But we all have something in common, doing what’s best for our children.
It’s not easy and it will take a lot of work but hopefully with these tips you can learn how to push the adult problems to the side and co-parent the best that you can.
Be the Bigger Person!
The fact that you are looking up ways to co-parent tells me that you are some what open minded! One thing to keep in mind is that you can’t change other people, but you can change yourself. Being the bigger person also means learning when your own behavior is not helping the situation and stopping to get your thoughts together.
In these types of situations, it’s easy to paint the other parent out to be the bad guy, not knowing the whole time we are the sidekick. We have to learn to be honest with ourselves and call ourselves out on our own rotten behavior for the children’s sake. Pointing fingers and picking on everything we don’t like about the other parent only makes the situation worse. So, step one…. be the bigger person no matter what it takes.
Communication IS Key in Co-Parenting!
Most people that fail at co-parenting have a hard time communicating. Communication is a very useful tool in co-parenting but it is rarely utilized and the conversation ends in a train wreck. A few things to remember is
- Communication is not meant to be one sided
- Communication isn’t limited to words(actions,noises, body language)
- Communication is not successful when its hostile
- Communication between parents shouldn’t involve slander or profanity
When you are communicating with somebody, you need to make sure that you are listening to understand , NOT listening to reply. When you listen to understand, you can actually get somewhere. It’s hard to think that you aren’t always right, but in some cases you really aren’t.
Listen to understand!
For example… Let’s say you and the other parent get into it because of your different parenting styles. They bring it to your attention that they don’t agree with it and before your brain really processes what was said, you hear, “you ARE a bad parent”. That wasn’t what was said but that’s how you took it and now you are on a rampage; pointing out all of the flaws that make them a bad parent.
If you listen to understand you will be able to communicate in a positive way. You can ask questions, like why they feel that way and things you can do to make it better.
I know it sounds crazy, but I got better at communicating for my daughter. I got better at listening to her father and his concerns and being able to work through the problems. Things are not perfect with him but because I decided I really do want whats best for my child, I learned to communicate in positive ways with her father. I learned how to truly co-parent.
Is This Helpful?
My next big tip is to only have meaningful conversations about the children until you can get along. Every time you talk you need to ask yourself if the conversation is helpful or hurtful for your child. Especially if the kids are around. Even though it’s hard, you shouldn’t even raise your voices in front of the kids.
They are already having a hard time with their parents being split up, bouncing back and forth, and learning new houses. They don’t need the added stress of watching the two people that they care about the most fight. All that child knows is they love mommy and they love daddy and they want it to stop.
Conversations that are negative and not meaningful and serve no real purpose for the child; are like going on a cross-country trip and never stopping to get gas. You will get nowhere fast!
If you know that a conversation is not beneficial for the child or it’s headed south quickly, remember these tips and try to apply them.
- Stop talking
- Calm down
- Gently remind your partner this isn’t helping the kids
- Express that you just want to co-parent and get along
- Leave the conversation on a positive note
Some of you may be looking at the screen and thinking, “that will never work”, “she doesn’t know my ex husband”, “it’s never going to change”!
I’m here to tell you a few things. I don’t know your ex, but I do know that if you go into it with a negative “NEVER” attitude, that’s exactly what you will get. You have to take it upon yourself to have helpful conversations, and stop them when they are hurtful.
Your attitude, body language, and tone matter as well. When you are having a conversation with your ex, it can be a helpful conversation but those three things can make it go left QUICK! Be very aware of those things when you go into a conversation.
You may have to fake it til you make it like I did, but after so long of being nice and attentive to the other parent without putting them down or rolling your eyes(which was a very hard one for me) it will come naturally to be nice. It’s hard to be mean to someone that is nice, calm, and genuinely trying to co-parent for the child. They may surrender and follow your example.
Check Your Motives!
The reason I say check your motives is because parents like to use the phrase, “I’m just doing what’s best for my child”, when really they are hurting the child for their own selfish motives. The most common one that I see is people splitting up and jealousy takes over. If your actions are out of spite, anger, or jealousy then most likely you are NOT doing what is best for your child. In fact you are hurting your child more than the other parent.
It may hurt to see your ex with someone else, but unless there is a real threat to your child there, keeping the child away is hurting the child. I see it way too often and it happened to me.
Just because somebody doesn’t want to be with you and vice versa doesn’t make them a bad person or a bad parent. The child is not a bargaining chip and that’s what happens to the child when jealousy takes over.
When you are co-parenting, focus on what really is best for your child. All of the pain, anger and jealousy needs to be set aside so your child can have the best life possible between two houses.
Leave The Kids Out of It!
There should never be a time when your child feels pressured into picking sides. This article ” The Poison P’s: How Bitterly Divorced Parents Put Kids in the Middle of Their Fight ”, tells us about the emotional damage that is done to a child who has to pick sides.
It doesn’t matter how old the child is either. My mother and step-father are divorced, my siblings are grown and they still deal with the negativity between the two parents. Even as adults, I can see the negative effects on my siblings and my mother.
I make it a rule in my house that not one negative word about my daughters father will be said around her. The way I feel about her father or my partner feels about her father, will never affect the way she feels about her father.
I hope this has helped you and that you can take these tips and really put them to work. Maybe even share this with the other parent. Always remember that the focus is the children. We have to remember that these days will pass and it will be easier on everyone to just get along.
Feel free to comment and let me know if this has helped you at all. If there are any other problems you would like to read about, leave me a topic. Please share this on social media to help other people that may have problems co-parenting. Stay blessed y’all.