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Co-parenting and Setting Healthy Boundaries

One way to clear up ambiguity in your co-parenting relationship is too consider establishing some formal boundaries. Here are some tips on how.
(3 min 47 sec read)

Dave Chartier
A single co-parenting dad, a freelance writer and former syndicated dad blogger with work published in USA Today, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

Healthy boundaries are one important aspect of co-parenting, it is important to be reminded of what the parameters of those boundaries are. As a disclaimer, what you and your co-parent feel are ‘healthy’ boundaries differs from couple to couple, we understand this. Like in marriage, perhaps more so in divorce, there are plenty of ‘gray-areas’ (ambiguity) to wrestle with.

One way to clear up ambiguity in your co-parenting relationship is too consider establishing some formal boundaries. Since you are dealing with an ex, you may feel you know the parameters and the outcomes but you may want to consider the ‘blinders’ you’re wearing as a co-parent. You are not privy to all and everything as you may have been while married. Attitudes and possible outcomes have most likely shifted, as well. Assume nothing.

If you decide to have a conversation about boundaries, like most things, keep the conversation direct, keep emotions in check, and things should always be kid-focused, meaning -what is in the best interest of the kids’ health and well-being. Anything that falls outside of the kid-centric ‘box’ is out of bounds for both of you unless otherwise discussed.

Keeping it on the positive, let’s discuss what healthy boundaries look like.

None of your business

Perhaps some of you got this as an answer when you were asking a grown-up a question and didn’t realize you were dealing with an out of bounds topic or question. In the case of co-parenting and managing your relationship with your ex, it may actually be applicable.

For example, you cannot control who your ex dates or even whether he or she introduces that person to your children ~unless it’s written into your custody agreement or parenting plan.

If there are concerns about something or someone in your ex’s life that directly affects the health and/or well-being of your kid, bring it up as a separate conversation with your co-parent, away from the children. If you truly feel it affects their health and well being set-up the conversation that way.

Be prepared to accept there are certain things about your ex’s life you do not agree with, but so long as their situation is not negatively affecting the kids, you simply have to let it go. Assuming you know the facts, consider what conditions will help your kids and why. If none of this applies, and it is something you simply do not like (like your ex-dating), it very well may be none of your business.

Health and Wellbeing

Let’s look at some examples of how health and wellbeing issues can play out. Perhaps you are in a blended family situation and Step Dad (Cool Dad) exercises his ability to ‘woo’ your kids with a constant flow of junk food you may not normally permit. While most would be on your side of this issue given the staggering rates of U.S. children with pre-diabetes health conditions, your first course of action is to address it with your ex. Maybe your ex does not see the issue, or maybe she agrees and addresses the issue.

If this does not prove to address the problem you may need to take on the project of educating your children with age-appropriate activities that show them the positive benefits of good eating habits. Knowing you are teaching them eating habits through paternal modeling, double-down on your own healthy habits that you wish for them. The bottom line is that they’ll have bad influences in all sorts of things through their formative years, (ex. friends, extended family, kids at school, media, etc.) be your best you for them, understanding they are watching you closely.

These are by no means the only gray areas when it comes to co-parenting. In the case of high-conflict co-parenting and/or parallel parenting, boundary issues are all over the place.

Healthy boundaries are clear boundaries, meaning unambiguous. As the kids grow there will be plenty of moments of ‘gray’ some will dissolve away and others may pop-up, these are best addressed sooner rather than later. If there is an ambiguous aspect to your co-parenting relationship the healthiest thing to do is discuss it, define it, and move on.

Eliminate the ‘Gray Areas’ of coParenting

We know this well as our coParenter Professionals provide 1:1 and 1:2 live on-demand coaching services to help co-parents work through ongoing and everyday issues. They help resolve issues usually in 20 minutes or less and can add the agreement and/or terms into your app accounts and your dossier of documents and agreements.

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