The key to co-parenting is to focus on your children—and your children only. This can be very difficult!
It means that your own emotions—any anger, resentment, or hurt—must be placed aside in order to attend to the needs of your children. Co-parenting is not about your feelings, or those of your ex, but rather about your child’s happiness and well-being.
Co-parenting amicably with your ex can provide your children stability and close relationships with both parents. Despite the many challenges, it is possible to develop a positive working relationship with your ex for the sake of your children. With these tips, you can remain calm, stay consistent, and avoid or resolve conflict with your ex:
● Do not let your feelings be in control. It is okay to be hurt and angry, but your feelings do not have to dictate your behavior. Instead, let what is best for your children—you working cooperatively with the other parent—motivate your actions.
● Get your feelings out somewhere else. Never vent to your child. Friends, therapists, or even a pet can be good listeners when you need to get your feelings off your chest. Exercise is also a healthy outlet for letting off steam.
● Stay child-focused. If you feel angry or resentful, try to remember why you need to act with purpose and grace; your child’s best interests are at stake.
● Never use children as messengers. When you have your child tell the other parent something for you, it puts your child in the center of conflict. The goal is to keep your child out of your relationship issues; call or email your ex yourself.
● Keep your issues to yourself. Never say negative things about your ex to your children or make them feel like they have to choose. Your child has a right to a relationship with his or her other parent that is free of your influence.
Posted by Isa Salvador, LCSW, IMH-E