You will be able to center yourself and deal with the other parent more effectively once you move to a relationship that focuses on parenting instead of the coParent. Detaching yourself emotionally from the other coParent will help to decrease your intimacy, which occurred in your marriage but not now.

Step One: Rephrase the on-going role as parent.

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Stop thinking of the coParent in terms of the former role they occupied in your life. That person is no longer your partner or spouse, so don’t refer to them as your “ex.” Use a neutral term such as coParent, my child’s other parent, etc. The use of a less emotional label will help you think of them in a less intimate way.

Step Two: Understand the extent of your control.

Try to come to terms with the diminished role the other parent plays in your life. The coParent is now an acquaintance or business contact who is a resource for your child. Try not to put any further expectations on this role. You have no control over that. The other parent will be involved to the extent it makes sense to the other parent.

Step Three: Don’t expect any favors.

Since the relationship has changed, the coParent no longer has to please you. Their only obligations are to the child. From now on, think of all interactions as business transactions.

Step Four: Focus on doing business.

Avoid social engagement with the coParent until you feel you can handle it without sparking an emotional reaction. Limit your interactions for now to those required to conduct business for your child, such as exchanges of the child or meeting at a parent-teacher conference.

Pre-plan the interactions you have with coParent:

1.  Decide what you want to accomplish for your child.

2.  Commit to staying focused on your goal for your child.

3.  Slow down or take a break if you feel that emotions are gaining control and pulling you off task. Don’t feel compelled to make snap decisions while face to face.

As you depend less on expected performance by the coParent and start putting your efforts into your own parenting, you should identify what can be accomplished without conditioning it on the cooperation of the coParent. There are child-focused decisions you can make that are within your own control.


About Kathleen Bird

Kathleen Bird, JD is a mediator, parent educator, former judge, and family lawyer. Her book, Self-Centered Co-Parenting, is the result of her experience working with thousands of frustrated parents to find a self-empowering method for quality parenting and decision-making.