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How to make co-parenting go as smoothly as possible

Raising kids is one of the most rewarding things you can do. It is also, at times, stressful and tiring – doubly so if you’re separated from their other parent and trying to navigate the pitfalls of co-parenting. There are strategies, however, to alleviate some of this stress.

Keeping these four things in mind can make life a little easier for you, your former partner and the children.

Communication

You will have disagreements with a former spouse – it’s unavoidable, Oprah Magazine writes. To tackle these in the most effective way possible requires good communication. That means trying to:

  • Handle the dispute away from your children, if possible
  • Never get personal
  • Be accessible and respond to calls or texts, rather than ignoring them

There will be times it isn’t easy, but by keeping an open line of communication, listening as much as speaking and remaining professional, co-parenting discussions can be much more productive.

Consistency

Children can benefit from a clear structure. Working with their other parent to create consistent rules and expectations can be helpful. For example, setting chore expectations that are the same no matter which parent the child is with is a good idea, Psychology Today suggests. Consider creating a uniform set of expectations for bed time, homework and behavior.

Children first

At the end of the day, what is best for the child? That question should be your North Star, guiding your decisions and conversations with your former spouse. This might sound contradictory to the suggestion above, but that includes being flexible. Set expectations for bed time and homework, but if the child’s other parent breaks those rules once because of a special circumstance, maybe let it go.

The same philosophy applies to treasured parenting time. By agreeing to bend every once in awhile, you can avoid conflict and gain some goodwill. Plus, you might need to ask them for a favor at some point in the future.

Keeping your cool

Going through a divorce and dealing with the aftermath is, understandably, very emotional. It’s easy to let intense feelings take over. Do your best to remain calm. That includes stepping away if you need to collect yourself, and communicating these emotions to your ex in a plain, direct manner.

A related piece of advice: Assume good intentions on the part of your former spouse. If you hear something that annoys you, pause to consider the situation. Don’t let resentment build up and seep into the relationship.

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