Co-parenting is a challenge even on a good day. There are so many opportunities for miscommunication or misinterpretation. The negotiating, the tracking of schedules, events and shared expenses is at times exhausting. Here are some tried and true strategies by our co-parenting experts to help you get it all done and keep the focus on what really matters, your kids.
We have all had schedule issues, last-minute changes and missed connections, the list goes on and on. Without even knowing it this is one of the many ways you’re teaching your children how to roll with the punches. Keep the focus on what is best for the children, understand that fumbles are going to happen, work with your co-parent and be flexible -you never know when you’re going to have a scheduling snafu and need to ask for a favor.
Judging and Not Listening
You may find yourself tuning out when your children are talking about their experiences with their other parent. You’re blocking out half of their childhood experience. You have much to learn and have distinct objectivity (*because you weren’t there). As they process the world around them, you can provide guidance. If you don’t leave yourself open to this dialogue, it will stop but that window to that portion of their life will close too. Stay open, don’t judge and see it through their eyes.
It is a never-ending battle to build a consistent parenting experience across two homes when communication is challenged at best. The ‘telephone game’ comes to mind. Over communicating with your co-parent is the best policy. Maintain your best ‘we are in this together’ (but apart) attitude by sharing co-parenting rules and standard with your co-parent, focus on what you both do consistently and build from that, accepting both homes will not have the same rules and standards. We realize there are challenges to this if one home has a curfew and another home does not, in which case, your teenager will quickly ‘game’ the system. If there are gaping holes between the two homes, you will need to address it with your co-parent.
Chances are you could not control what your ex would do or say when you were married, what makes you think you can now? If you are dealing with an uncooperative co-parent adjust your attitude to a business-friendly tone. What exactly does this sound like? Treat them as you would a UPS driver doing a delivery or a mechanic working on your car -friendly, respectful, unemotional and perhaps a bit transactional.
Say this every day to yourself. To speak badly of your co-parent in front of your child is to speak badly of them. Children will interpret a co-parent put down as a put down to them, regardless of your feelings about them, your children love their other parent and recognize a portion of their identity to them. If you have an issue with the other co-parent, take it directly to them and not your child. Just keep the children out of the middle, that’s not fair to them. Trust if your co-parent has some critical character flaw your children will figure it out in due time.