Navigating Co-Parenting Successfully

Navigating Co-Parenting Successfully

Even the most idyllic marriage can end in divorce and heartbreak, and there are as many different reasons they fall apart as there are couples. People change and grow, and sadly, it’s all part of the story of love and loss. 

Unfortunately, children are the innocents in these situations, and when couples split they inevitably fracture the stability and continuity every young person deserves. It’s easy to downplay the fear, loss, and anxiety that children experience when their family structure breaks down, and the effects are long-lasting and deep. 

Life goes on, of course, and many couples find themselves in the position of co-parenting with a former spouse with whom they may not get along. Even if you end things on good terms, your own emotional draw-down will likely make navigating co-parenting successfully a challenge until your new relationship normalizes.

Fortunately, with the right tools and problem-solving strategies, navigating co-parenting successfully can be a rewarding and positive experience. And it should be! Your kids are the most important thing in the world. 

A Quick Note on Teamwork

We’re about to give you a lot of advice on how to co-parent successfully, but we should start with a disclaimer: all of this is directed towards finding more empathetic interactions for mutually beneficial outcomes. 

That’s entirely possible if your former spouse is a reasonable person, but we’re not naive. We know they might not be. Of the things we suggest, you may only be able to work towards one or two of them with your former partner, and the rest will continue to be the same old nightmare it’s always been.

Even if things are easy, you’re still going to disagree with what happens at someone else’s house sometimes. No matter how right or important it may feel, sometimes you just won’t win, and that can be a part of a healthy co-parenting relationship or it can slowly erode it.

Our first, best advice on navigating co-parenting successfully comes from the French philosopher and witty rogue Voltaire:

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

That’s your co-parenting mantra, and you can follow it up with a rosary-worth of Serenity Prayers. Do your best to change what you can, and learn to live with what you can’t control. If it’s good for your kids, put your ego on the shelf and do it.

1. Create a Culture of Conversing

Getting along requires everybody making an effort to communicate and listen. People can live with not getting their way if they feel like their opinions were heard and cared about in the discussion, and fostering that environment is a conscious act. 

Oddly enough, communicating after a divorce can be easier because you have physical space between you if things get heated. When you do talk, advocate for your opinions, listen carefully, and always look for the middle ground and compromise wherever it makes sense.

What you should absolutely avoid wherever possible is the nuclear option: lawyers. Don’t even mention them unless you’re absolutely serious and the issue at hand is a legitimate existential crisis! 

2. Establish Boundaries and Gently Enforce Them

Healthy boundaries are important in every relationship, and they are essential for navigating co-parenting successfully.

Custody is an excellent starting place for boundary-setting that can have a positive impact throughout your relationship with your ex. 

For instance, where, when, and how your kids move from one house to the other can be difficult, especially with changing schedules and busy lives. You both have to be flexible, but sometimes your former spouse may take advantage of your good faith, waste your time, and demand a lot of extra effort on your part.

This is where boundaries are huge. If you’re supposed to drop them off on Sunday between 3 and 3:20 and your spouse is a no-show for the fifth time…go home! Let them call you when they’re ready, and don’t offer to drive across town to make their life easy. You don’t have to scream and shout—they’ll get the message that stomping on your life means more work for them and make an adjustment.

Trust us. 

3. Create a United Front

You can’t work together if you undermine each other at every turn. Kids—particularly teenagers—are smart, and if they think the rules change depending on who they’re talking to they’ll use it to get around both of you. 

The first rule of Fight Club is “You do not talk about Fight Club,” and it’s the same with co-parenting. Whatever problems you have with your ex, they need to stay on the phone so when a decision has been made it’s communicated clearly and consistently from both of you.

Also, if you complain about each other to your kids, the lesson they’re learning is that respecting each other is not part of your family values. Just don’t. 

4. Listen to Your Kids

With all this talk about how you and your ex will manage, it’s easy to forget who’s voice also needs to be heard: your kids. They’re a part of all this too, and their experience and participation is critical to making co-parenting successful.

A simple question like “why are you having a hard time in school” can seem profoundly complex, but it’s entirely possible it’s as simple as “You drop me off at dad’s at 5 AM and I’m falling asleep in class.” That’s an easy fix, and if you listen empathetically and practically to your children, you and your ex will be able to make the adjustments you need to make the best of it.

Getting Co-Parenting Off on the Right Foot

At Better Divorce Academy we know that disagreements about parenting can be the end of a marriage, but they are going to be right there waiting for you as you’re starting anew. The last thing anyone needs is a hostile beginning to co-parenting, and that’s where a credentialled divorce mediator can make a huge impact. With the right approach, you can both start walking your new paths with empathy, respect, financial stability, and empowerment to affect positive change for your family and for your future.

Navigating co-parenting successfully is a big challenge, and the experts at Better Divorce Academy can help you get it right.

For you, and for your children.

Visited 1 times, 1 visit(s) today