One of the most difficult aspects of divorce as a parent is learning how to successfully co-parent with your ex. You may not really even want to deal with your ex after your divorce, but when you share child custody, you will have to at some level. If you want what’s best for your child, you eventually want to build a strong co-parenting relationship with your ex. That may take time, and you will face challenges, but it will benefit your child’s long-term emotional and mental well-being.
So, here are some of the challenges you likely will face when adjusting to co-parenting:
- You will face temptation to speak badly about your ex in front of your child. However, this behavior doesn’t help your child. It only puts them in the middle. Instead, take the high road and don’t let your child see or hear your frustration or anger with your ex.
- You and your ex will have different rules for your child. Whether you have different bedtimes for your child, different chores they are required to help out with or different styles of discipline, your child likely will have different rules at one house versus the other. If you and your ex can come to some agreement on many of the rules (such as bedtime, when homework is done or a child’s screen time use), you can help your child benefit from having more consistency between both homes.
- You no longer can control every aspect of your child’s life. You may not like it that your ex allows your child to watch certain movies or TV shows. You have to let go of those preferences and focus on what your child really needs from each of you and work to solve any larger issues diplomatically.
- You will have to be flexible. Your ex may need to switch your custody schedule from time to time. Try to be as flexible as you can to accommodate this. Don’t say no just to punish your ex.
- You may have a hard time communicating with your ex. You can agree to limit your communication about your child to emails and texts, to limit the emotions involved. You also can keep your communications brief and professional.
Eventually, co-parenting becomes easier for parents who are willing to put their children’s interests first. You may be surprised when you and your ex agree to have Thanksgiving together or co-host your child’s birthday party. But you will be showing your child that you value having both parents involved in their life.