Co-Parenting with an Ex

With over half of the marriages in this country ending in divorce, many people are in the tricky waters of co-parenting with someone with whom they are not maintaining a romantic or familial relationship. It is difficult, yet necessary, to put aside sometimes hurtful relationship issues for the betterment of one’s children. It can be frustrating, overwhelming, and exhausting to arrange joint custody agreements, especially if the relationship ended acrimoniously. You may frankly wish that you never had to acknowledge this person’s existence! The bottom line is that being able to co-parent in an amiable manner will provide your children with stability and comfort. Not only is this necessary, but it is indeed possible!

As a parent, we already know that our welfare must take a back seat to our children’s. This murky area of separation or divorce is no different. It is necessary to put blinders on when it comes to anger, resentment, and hurt feelings, and to simply focus on your children’s needs. Your former relationship is gone, yet you must realize that this person is always going to be part of your child’s life, so it is imperative that you build a new relationship, all focused upon these little people you have created together. This may seem like an impossible task…after all, any other ex can simply be “excommunicated” from your life! This is not the case when it comes to the other parent of your child. If first and foremost in your mind is your child’s welfare, you will succeed.

The manner in which you approach your former partner will set the tone. It may help to imagine that you have a new business-like relationship with this person, and the business involved is the happiness and wellness of your child. Choose to speak with him or her as you would a colleague at work, with natural tones and cordiality. Your goal is to remain as free from conflict as possible. Do not bring up your history together. From this day on, everything is new, and the relationship a respectful partnership of parenthood.

It is vital to keep one another in the loop when it comes to important issues. Nothing will cause a ruckus faster than not sharing information! When it comes to education, health, and financial issues, always make a point to share a discussion with the other parent. A mother or father that is left out of vital aspects of their child’s life will respond with fear and anger, to the detriment of your partnership and (more importantly) your child’s peace of mind. Children are aware of more than we think.

No matter how often visitations occur, they need to be as seamless as possible. Remember that your child has to say goodbye to one parent when they say hello to another. This will be difficult for them, and any added stress upon them is uncalled-for and blatantly unfair. While it is important to be lenient and open-minded, keeping to a basic schedule is helpful for all concerned. Your children will know what to expect and will not be surprised or uncomfortable by constant change, especially if such change comes with stress and anger.

The bottom line is this: Your children are more important than the reason(s) you ended your relationship. They must be shown that your love for them is unconditional and prevails above all other matters. When you can co-parent successfully, your children will feel secure and confident in their relationships with both parents. They tend to adjust quicker and easier to the separation. They will also learn from you! If you can solve problems amicably, they will receive a strong understanding of how to handle issues in their own lives. Choose to be the example that you want your kids to follow. They will be healthier and thankful for the peace and security!

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