This article was authored by Krishan Smith: senior editor and content specialist at Custody X Change, a custody software solution.
Give Trust a Chance
An essential component of a healthy co-parent relationship is gaining trust in your co-parent. Keep your co-parent involved in your children’s lives; this will hopefully foster a greater sense of responsibility in your ex-spouse whilst letting their relationship grow with your children, which is definitely beneficial for them. Besides, if you involve them they are more likely to involve you and communicate, meaning you will have a better understanding and knowledge of how they parent. Without being nosy or controlling, the more informed you are the more you will learn to trust.
It can be really difficult to learn to rely on and trust someone who has continually let you down and/or hurt you in the past. However in the past you were partners in a completely conventional way, now it’s different. You are a co-parenting team. Maybe communication was always a problem when you were together but unfortunately it is the key component that will lead to a successful co-parenting partnership. Communicating effectively and respectfully sets a good example to your children whilst helping avoid disagreements, misunderstandings and eventually conflict.
Setting an example is also a good method to employ with your ex-partner. If they see you co-parenting well; respecting agreements, speaking politely, communicating well, giving advance notice etc. they are more likely to reciprocate these behavioral patterns.
However, remember you can’t force someone to change their parenting style. Setting an example might motivate them to improve in areas where they need to apply more effort but you have to learn that they parent differently to you. A large part of trust is compromise, some non-damaging aspects of their parenting style are better to just accept. Importantly you need to learn to lower your expectations; otherwise you will just be continually disappointed and angry with your ex-partner.
Communication also plays a part in addressing serious issues. If provisions outlined in your parenting plan are being neglected or if important dates are missed then of course you need to speak up, you can’t accept everything. These plans are made to be flexible but also to be respected and consistent; a custody schedule can be legally binding and is not something to be taken lightly.
You can see an example parenting plan template here.
Be assertive but not aggressive or personal when bringing up these issues, keep your children’s interests the focus of your point and it will be harder for your point to be dismissed. Criticize constructively and gently, encourage rather than disparage. Arranging an appointment with your ex-spouse in this situation to discuss important issues is the best course of action.
Examples of Successful Co-Parenting
This article shares some hard-earned wisdom from celebrities that have learned a thing or two about co-parenting. These 16 highlight the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship, communication, compromise and always putting the needs of your children first, they have to be the priority. Encourage your child’s relationship with the other co-parent; let them know their mom/dad loves them even when they’re not with them.
Your kids need to understand that you and your ex are no longer together, the why may never be relevant and at the very least needs to be when they’re old enough to understand. That being said, because you’re not together anymore that means they no longer need to be subjected to any problems you used to have together. Show restraint; don’t argue in front of them. You’re not together romantically but you’re a united parenting team and a family.