How to Successfully Co-Parent With Your Former Spouse
It is no secret that co-parenting can be very difficult. Parenting by itself can be hard enough, but when you and the other parent do not get along or do not agree with parenting methods, it becomes even more difficult. How can you combat these challenges effectively? The following tips can get you started.
- Keep an Open Dialogue
Communication is absolutely vital in a successful co-parenting arrangement. However, talking to your former spouse in a rational and productive way is much easier said than done in many situations. That does not mean it cannot be done. Just develop a structure that works for your unique circumstances.
If face to face communication does not work, try texts or emails. If you cannot get the other spouse to respond, use phone calls or set up specific meeting times. It is important that both spouses recognize that the communication you need for co-parenting is for the benefit of your child. Do not make it about you!
- Develop Consistent Rules
Structure is vital to a child’s development. Having the same rules and expectations at both households will help your child adjust properly. The significant issues, like mealtime, bedtime, and chores should be as identical as possible. Routines for completing school work or getting to and from extracurriculars should also be similar.
Having the same rules between households allows your child to understand the expectations will be the same no matter where he or she is. The predictability of the routine creates a sense of security for your child.
- Do Not Emotionally Burden Your Child
Your child is just that—a child. He or she is not a messenger, therapist, or spy. Do not attempt to sabotage your child’s relationship with his or her other parent by trying to gain information or speaking poorly of your former spouse. The less you can expose the child to any conflict you may have with your former spouse, the better.
Show your child that you and their other parent can get along and that adults solve their problems by talking through them. Your child should never think that it is his or her obligation to mediate your fights with the other parent.
- Be Flexible and Pick Your Battles
Schedules will change, and your child’s needs will evolve as he or she grows. Be flexible with activities with the other parent. Giving the other spouse a little leeway can go a long way to maintaining a good relationship with the other parent as well as your children.
Being flexible does not mean that you should be a pushover, however. If there is a specific reason that you cannot be flexible with scheduling, explain your rationale and stand your ground. If it really isn’t essential, and you are really just objecting out of principle or spite, it is okay to make adjustments. Hopefully your former spouse will return the favor in the future.
Dealing with family law issues, including co-parenting conflicts, can be extremely difficult, but we can help make some things easier for you to handle. Contact our office at 435-884-3426 if you need help with a family law issue in Utah.