When you get divorced, your spousal relationship ends but your parental relationship will continue forever. Once the dust settles after you have finalized your parenting plan, you will likely be required to interact with your ex because of the children more than you would have thought. For the kids’ sake, try to be a good co-parent.
Be flexible and accommodating – remember the old saying “tit for tat”. If you are flexible with the other parent, they will likely return the favour to you later. Life happens. There are times when unavoidable things come up, and changes are required to the original plan. If you allow for these changes to positively affect the kids, they will. For instance, if an event comes up that doesn’t fit in your original schedule, but the kids would love to be able to go, then see if you can make it work.
Bite your tongue – don’t you remember what your mother told you? If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. It’s a given that you should avoid entering into conflict with your ex in front of the kids. Many of my clients tell me that they avoid fights until after the kids are in bed, or they get “into it” where the kids can’t hear. Guess what… are you sure they’re really sleeping? Are the walls really that thick? Avoiding conflict, not hiding conflict, is the best solution if at all possible.
Review your plan often – if you have a parenting plan, you should check in with the other parent at certain intervals to ensure that the plan is still working, and that nothing needs to be changed. Your plan should be well documented and up to date; if you change your plan verbally over the years and don’t update it, you could be in for some conflict later if a disagreement arises over how you agreed to co-parent.
Have you been a successful co-parent? Share your stories with me – send me an email or follow me on Twitter at @stephaniecollab and send me a tweet. I want to hear from you! Find archives of my articles on our website.