There are a lot of challenges when it comes to being a single parent, especially if you’re in a position where you’re co-parenting with another. The rules in your household and how you care for your child will sometimes be entirely different from each other; this can even pertain to scheduling, like at bedtime, and include the food your child eats. While there can be disagreements on parenting styles, it is important to have a good relationship, or you’re creating more challenges in your co-parenting relationship.
Have Consistent Communication
The first step in making sure your co-parenting relationship goes as smoothly as possible is establishing consistent communication and parenting rules. Conflict-free conversations and respectful behavior will help you avoid the emotional baggage of animosity from your divorce and stay focused on the children’s well-being. Can it be tough? Absolutely, but regardless, consistency is key, and it has to be from both parties, not just from one of the parents either.
Consistency is crucial in any household, but it’s especially important when co-parenting because children often find themselves torn between two houses. It’s easy to get distracted by your emotions and let some rules slide at one parent’s house, but this can lead to confusion for kids who aren’t used to the transitions between parents. Are there any exceptions to the rule? There can be, such as if one of the parties is flat-out neglectful or practicing bad parenting. But overall, both parents should try their hardest to follow up consistently on communication and making plans.
Always Stay Kind
You should play nice, even if you don’t like the co-parent. Ultimately, it’s not your feelings or theirs that matters most, but it’s your child’s emotional well-being stability, and overall happiness with the situation they’re in. Coparents who treat each other with courtesy and respect often find it easier to get along. This is especially important when communicating about your children. Children are very perceptive and may pick up on their parent’s emotions, which can lead to anxiety and stress. When things get rocky, you can’t just outright pour your negative feelings on your child about their other parent.
Venting is usually best done outside the children’s presence — with friends, family, or even a therapist. So never argue in front of your child; it’s not going to end well. If you have trouble keeping your emotions in check, it may help you to focus on the tasks at hand and think of the bigger picture. The end goal is to be able to co-parent effectively and allow your children to have healthy relationships with both their biological parents. This takes commitment and maturity, but it is often the most effective way to keep your children’s best interests at heart. The good news is that most parents eventually learn to do just this!
No matter what, there will have to be some flexibility from all parties involved. You (and everyone) need to be patient with the situation, from parent-teacher meetings to getting a consultation from Family Law Attorney Ben Carrasco, birthday parties, holidays, and beyond. So the key to a healthy co-parenting relationship is being flexible. Parenting plans are rarely perfect and can’t account for every situation that may arise.
Flexibility can also mean being willing to compromise or coming around to your ex-spouse’s perspective from time to time. While you may disagree, putting your feelings aside and focusing on the child’s best interests will help you move forward in your co-parenting journey. Being punctual when picking up and dropping off your children is another way to show flexibility and respect. If you have a commitment or emergency that makes it impossible to adhere to the scheduled pick-up or drop-off time, let the other parent know as soon as possible so they can work with you to find a solution.
Finally, being flexible means understanding that parenting styles vary from person to person. While you may disagree with your ex’s parenting style, it is important to remember that they are doing their best to raise their child or children and that, in most cases, their differences are only minor. It can be hard, especially if you’re dead-set on your ways, but sometimes you have no choice but to be flexible.