Co-parenting can be a rollercoaster ride, and you are on this ride with your children and your ex. You can either spend the entirety of it focusing on fostering a negative relationship with your ex as your children watch, or you can both agree that you are two people who love your kids more than anything and try to get along as best as you can.
Here are a few tips for a successful co-parenting relationship.
1. Accept each other’s strengths and flaws. This will not always be an easy feat. For the most part, we all have our own unique strengths and flaws as individuals. You may be keenly aware of your ex’s flaws, especially if they were a catalyst for divorce. However, for a positive co-parenting relationship it is important to focus on the positive qualities they bring to the table as a parent and not the negative. Keeping the animosity at bay will make life much easier for everyone involved.
2. Always put the kids first. Sometimes you will need to make decisions regarding the children where there is not a simple answer. Conflict may arise when planning family holidays or modifying a time-sharing agreement. If the kids have voiced their opinion on the matter, take their words to heart when making decisions. Don’t just think about how decisions will impact you; think about how decisions will impact the children.
3. Keep realistic expectations. Often, we place unrealistic expectations on people and relationships, inevitably leading to disappointment. With an ex especially, you may know what to expect yet still set the bar too high. By being realistic with your expectations, you can help to lessen tension and hard feelings in the relationship.
4. Keep good communication. Do not be afraid to have discussions with your ex about how you feel. Using the “I feel” approach can help to ensure your ex does not feel attacked or like the blame is being placed on them. You may hit bumps in the co-parenting road but talking about solutions can help to keep your relationship on the right track.
5. Be the bigger person. Sometimes you will need to be the one to bend or sacrifice more, and that’s okay. In everyday life we are forced to adjust to surrounding circumstances. We usually do not give compromise a second thought but when it comes to dealing with an ex you may feel justified in not being flexible. No matter your feelings, you still need to do what’s right for your children.
Co-parenting is not an easy task but the time and effort you invest will benefit your children tenfold. It is a lot of hard work, but it’s worth doing.
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Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.
Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.
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