In an ideal world, you and your ex work in sync to raise the child or children you share. You divide and conquer responsibilities and find solutions in a mutually supportive way. Despite the divorce, communication is cordial and arguments rare.
And then there’s reality. For some former couples, co-parenting means raising children despite a post-divorce relationship that swings between frosty and overheated like weather in the Midwest.
But that’s okay, says the author of How to Be a Great Co-Parent If You Don’t Get Along With Your Ex. In her article published in Parents magazine, Michelle Dempsey-Multack writes that while having a good relationship with the other parent is nice, it’s not necessary. To succeed as a co-parent, keep a few things in mind:
- Treat it like a business. Stay focused on your child’s needs, not your exes’ reactions. Keep communication brief, professional and task-focused to get things done, and leave it at that. Don’t get side-tracked by old interpersonal conflicts.
- Model respect. Avoid name-calling, sarcasm and other rude behaviors. Let your child see that two people can treat each other with common courtesy and work together even when they don’t agree.
- Have Open Lines of Communication. Which is to say, normalize regular communication for the sake of your child. It’s important to be able to check on how your kids are doing when they’re not with you or when unexpected issues arise, and for your ex to be able to do the same.
- Set boundaries. Once you’re divorced, your personal life is none of your ex’s business, and vice versa. Don’t overshare or pry (and never use your child as a go-between to get information on your ex, or ask them to relay messages). Keep it about the kids.
All of this takes practice. For those who use to enjoy sharing all of life’s details with their spouse, it can be a tough adjustment when that closeness is gone. If the divorce is still fresh, it is possible the relationship will improve over time. But whether it does or not, it’s entirely in your power to be a great co-parent.
Questions? With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Jones Family Law Group, LLC, will provide the legal guidance you need. For questions or to schedule a confidential consultation, call 314-449-8830.