The Challenge of Co-Parenting: The Top Three Strategies

Relate Guide

Parenting at any time can be a challenging and complicated process. Parenting following divorce or separation can be even more difficult. The prospect of Co-parenting with the ex may seem a nightmare .

“Focus on the fact that you love your kids more than you dislike your ex.”

In Relate’s guide “Help Your Children Cope with Your Divorce“, Paula Hall gives the following advice for parents embarking on the co-parenting journey.

The qualities required for effective co-parenting are good communication, compromise and co-operation,’ she writes. It may be difficult if these things were missing in the first place but she adds that ‘once the separation is complete and the focus of conversations is purely on the children, many couples realise that for everyone concerned, you might as well get on with the job of being parents and leave bad feelings in the past.’

Paula’s top tips for implementing the three core qualities can be summarised as follows:

Communication

  • Although there may be bad feelings, keep communication calm and courteous
  • Meet your ex partner when you have time and energy, not when you are stressed or tired
  • Keep emotions in check and agree a time out if either of you gets too emotional

Co-operation

  • Agree rules and roles beforehand. Children find it easier to have the same rules in both homes.
  • Keep communication respectful and don’t disagree in front of your children
  • Don’t encourage the children to take sides or use your child as a spy to find out about your ex’s personal life
  • Don’t criticise your ex partner as this can be very stressful for the children.
  • Be reasonable in your expectations of your ex partner, and understanding of lapses and mistakes. Your ex will be doing their best for the children and so will you.

Compromise

  • Remember that what is best for the child is not always best for the parents
  • A child misbehaving is not necessarily a result of the split. Talk to them and explore why they are upset.
  • I hate you and want to live with my dad/mum’ is normal as they usually want to live with both. They may know it is the best way to hurt you so instead of getting hurt simply explore what can be done
  • Remember that the children need to feel that they can love both parents without being disloyal
  • Respect that siblings might want to do different things.
  • If your ex gets a new partner put aside negative feelings in front of your children. It will be difficult but the healthiest thing for the child is to be allowed to accept and like the new partner which is hard if you don’t.

People coping with the new dimensions of co-parenting may benefit from a talking with a counsellor in a few sessions. As part of a national charity with 70 years experience supporting relationships, Relate Mid Wiltshire has always been known for their work with couples. However, whole families, individuals and children as young as seven regularly benefit from counselling with Relate, as the service is offered to anyone who simply needs someone to talk to.

Family Counselling may be appropriate, or individual counselling for either parent or the children. Relate is keen to support anyone in making the process of co-parenting successful and beneficial for everyone involved. Call 0844 826 1788 to find out how Relate may be able to help you and your family

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Article by Richard Sharp

Richard is dedicated to helping clients avoid the trauma of prolonged conflict by finding solutions that benefit them and their families. He works to resolve complex financial situations, protect assets acquired over lifetimes, prioritise the needs of children, and reach outcomes that are fair for all parties.