Eight Ways to Co-parent & Stay Sane
Drama sucks up energy and the longer it goes on it becomes more difficult to turn things around. Am I the only one that hates to disagree with their child(ren's) other parent? I know that I am not. After the dynamics of my family changed, initially the best way I found to cope was to just have no contact unless it was absolutely necessary. Really that was the best thing for me to do. However, I got too comfortable in this way of dealing with co-parenting for way too long.
Only in the last two years, have we been able to make an about-face and revamp our approach to bringing up our children. I literally had to sit my co-parent down and say, "Um, you think that it's about time we call a truce?" Somehow, we were able to find a little humor in the situation because it was quite ridiculous that the non-communication had gone on longer than anything that either of us had been committed to in our entire lives.
It is a change that I have welcomed with an open-mind and heart, most of the time. Just being honest. Parenting isn't easy. We can become emotional and protective of our children. Especially when we feel like we know what's best and only want that. It is essential that both parents be on the same page and keep the air clear for your family to thrive.
If you are like me and are trying to navigate building a healthy, successful co-parenting relationship for your sanity and the children's sake then check out my tips for making it happen.
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Even though you are no longer a couple that does not mean that your relationship has to end. It can evolve into a friendship or at least, in my case a partnership with the common goal of raising great kids that you both can be proud of.
2. Don't Throw (Old) Stones.
Constantly rehashing the past will never allow you to move forward. Fight the urge to bring up things that cannot be changed. Sometimes you will have to forgive things that you never received an apology for. Just remember, the future is most important.
3. Be Inclusive.
Make milestones, holidays, birthdays, appointments, extra-curricular activities, trips, etc. as inclusive as possible. We cannot lay claim to all of our children's memories. Trust me, they will be truly grateful to look up to see both of their parents in the crowd rooting them on.
4. Establish Boundaries.
Set the rules early on and stick to them. Show respect for each others space and time. A schedule can help everyone fall into a routine and allow both parents to be actively present with the children.
5. Rebuild Trust.
Often times when trying to co-parent with an ex there are issues with trust that was broken in your intimate relationship. Acknowledge that these issues can spill into the way you view each other as parents and work to show you are trustworthy. Be consistent. Be honest. Be considerate.
6. Communicate Effectively
I totally get it if you have concerns about conflict because of past experiences with a co-parent that didn't fight fair. Those feelings are valid and really the previous experiences are what make is to hard to speak up in future situations. It is so important to try not to allow the past to dictate the future. My own dad often reminds me that, "a zebra never changes it's stripes." This may be true but it doesn't mean that you get to avoid them all together. Get clarity on what you need as a parent and avoid distracting topics or being snarky when speaking to the coparent.
7. Take The High Road.
Sometimes tempers are going to fly. It is okay to disagree when you have different belief systems and expectations. Try to be empathetic and choose to rise above the drama.
8. Be Each Others Support System.
No matter what have each other's back. Agree early on to never argue in front of the kids and the back up what the other says especially when it comes to issues of discipline and house rules. Openly encourage each other to grow have a deeper connection the children. That way there is no way your kids can be confused about where you stand. You're standing together as their biggest influence and supporters.
Co-parenting can be hard. I recommend doing what's best for your child(ren) and above all practice self-care to protect your own peace. It is very brave and takes incredible strength to choose to fly above the drama to get ish done. But mama's this is what we do all the time. You've got this!
Tell me... have you mastered the tricky roll of co-parent? What advice do you have for other mothers and fathers? Are you struggling with this? What is stopping you from co-parenting effectiviely?