The 10 Best Strategies for Co-Parenting

Posted by on Feb 28, 2014 in Couples Counseling, Couples Counseling For One, Healthy Separation and/or Divorce Counseling | Comments Off on The 10 Best Strategies for Co-Parenting

How to Work Together After Separation or Divorce

Moving forward, it’s vitally important to minimize the damage to yourself, your kids, and even your ex, while building healthier, more supportive relationships.

1.     Focus on the kids.

Do your best to maintain connection for your children, however minimal. Avoid rehashing hurtful relationship issues. Don’t allow the past to impair your ability to work with your ex and care for your kids.

Your kids are the priority.

2.     Maintain respect for the sake of your kids.

Friendship with your ex may not be possible or even desirable. Still, basic respect between you is necessary. See your ex as a co-worker. Just as you wouldn’t refuse to work with a difficult person at work, try to be cordial and polite.

Attempt to co-parent considerately.

3.     Avoid putting kids in the middle.

Though it may be tempting to make kids intermediaries between you and your former spouse, kids should be free to be kids. Emails or texts are better communication options.

Adults should manage adult issues.

4.     Avoid bad-mouthing your ex in front of the kids.

Kids love both their parents. Children shouldn’t feel like they need to choose one parent over the other. Let them know that they can love the other parent without fear of upsetting you.

Allow kids to love and respect both parents.

5.     Encourage your child’s relationship with their other parent.

Acknowledge your ex’s importance to your child. Try not to behave as though your ex’s household and parenting time doesn’t exist. Support contact between them, but avoid interference.  Openly discuss what goes on at their other home.

Facilitate open, loving communication and interaction.

6.     Avoid the temptation to tell your ex how to parent.

While you should negotiate key parenting issues, like discipline, to maintain consistency, accept that you have little influence over your ex’s parenting style. Remember, kids are adaptable and will quickly learn to meet the expectations of each household.

Learn to accept your ex’s way of parenting.

Note: Do not tolerate any situation in which you children are neglected or endangered.

7.     Be flexible.

Your custody agreement provides structure, but is not written in stone. Negotiate changes and collaborate for the benefit of your children. Even when your ex makes a request you cannot honor, offer alternatives instead of just closing the door on the request, such as “I can’t do that, but I can do this” kinds of statements.

Allow for some parenting give and take.

8.     Give your former partner the benefit of the doubt.

Anger and resentment may color your reactions to your ex. Refrain from interpreting interactions negatively. Try not to personalize your ex’s motivation, ask yourself:

  • Can I see his or her perspective?
  • What would I hope for if the roles were reversed?
  • How would I want to be treated if my needs or availability changed?

Resist the assumption that your ex is out to get you.

9.     Tell your ex when you are dating someone else.

Tell your ex before you tell your kids. Spare your children the job of breaking the news or keeping your new partner a secret. Also, reassure your ex that he or she is not being replaced; they are forever your child’s parent.

Keep initial dating news, feelings, and discussion among adults.

10.   Attempt to establish a working relationship with your ex’s new partner.

Engage the person who will be responsible for your child’s care at some point. Adopt the mindset that, instead of a broken family, your child now has an expanded family of multiple, loving adults.

Validate that there is room for many important people in your child’s life.


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