You and your ex-spouse both love your kids. Even if you and they no longer love each other, you have the kids in common — and that’s worth making co-parenting work.
Here are some co-parenting tips for beginners:
1. Find a safe place to vent.
There are going to be times when your ex-spouse still aggravates you, no matter how polite you’re both trying to be. You may also still have some old emotional wounds that haven’t healed. Find a therapist or a friend you can vent to so that you can expiate your emotions and concentrate on the business of co-parenting.
2. Focus on the present, not the past.
Don’t rehash the past when you and your ex-spouse have to interact. Take a list of talking points and stick to them. If your ex-spouse tries to wander off-topic, politely steer the conversation back to the kids.
3. Avoid sending messages through the kids.
You can make liberal use of email or text messages, so there’s really no reason that your kids should ever have to carry a message between you. Keeping them out of the middle of your conflicts with your ex-spouse can make it easier for everyone to cope.
4. Be timely, polite and kind.
Don’t bad-mouth your ex in front of the kids. Don’t allow your relatives or friends to do so, either. You should also treat your ex-spouse like a co-worker. Be polite, don’t be intrusive and show up on time for custody exchanges.
5. When things get complicated, schedule a meeting.
If you and your ex-spouse find that tensions are building, step away from the conversation and agree to meet at a neutral spot (without the kids around) after you’ve both had time to gather your thoughts, put your emotions in check and can focus.
Co-parenting takes effort. The right parenting and visitation plan can help. If your current parenting plan isn’t working, find out what can be done to improve the situation.