As single moms, we have so many tasks to juggle between our personal life, home life and work life. For many of us, one of the difficulties of living as a single parent is working with our child’s other parent with all aspects of our children’s lives which can range from visitation exchanges, scheduling, pick up and drop off, healthcare issues, and so on.
Co-parenting in theory sounds great, and it looks like the best outcome on court documents. However, the quality of your life as a co-parent (and the quality of the relationship with the other parent) is driven not by a theory or a piece of paper, but on how you effectively manage and control yourself as well as the tone of the interactions with the other parent. Though you cannot control the other half of the relationship, you are certainly in control of your part of it. Here are three tips for improving a difficult co-parent situation:
Live in the Present
You are no longer with the parent you share children with. All of that is in the past where it will remain forever. The biggest damage you can do to yourself is to continue to relive all of the past in the present moment. Do not do this! When communicating with the other parent, you might find yourself carrying your anger, resentment or negativity about the past into the conversation. No matter how the other person chooses to communicate with you, it is never okay to be condescending, argumentative or judgmental. It’s not okay even if you feel that it is justified. Deal with this person in the current moment and stick to the current subject matter. Make a promise to yourself that you will deal with your past anger and resentment. Letting go of the past in your own heart will help to improve your co-parenting.
Stick to the Topic at Hand
Co-parenting is difficult business because you must determine as two people what topics and conversation is appropriate and what topics are off-limits. If the other parent changes the topic of conversation, it is best if you bring the conversation back to the topic at hand. Determine that you will decide to use a great deal of self-control to continue moving the conversation to a quick resolution or conclusion. Do not try to act as a psychologist, counselor or friend. It is important that you maintain boundaries to topics and conversations that are related to the children.
Be Aware of the Children’s Needs
Many times co-parenting conversations are solely about the parent’s schedules, needs and desires. However as a parent it is important that you stay in touch with how your children are feeling under the current schedule. Do they need more time with the other parent? Do they seem to struggle with the days or weeks they are with one parent more than another? Even though court orders are helpful for determining a good parenting plan, the best plans are the ones where both parents look at how the schedule works best for the children first, and themselves secondly. The best plan is a plan that offers both consistency that gives children a sense of security while also allowing for adjustments to be made based on a number of factors from emotional needs to school and extracurricular activities.
Remember this all-important verse as you engage in all communication with the other parent: