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How to Co-Parent a Child with an Uncooperative Ex-Spouse
Following divorce, learning to co-parent is not an easy feat. When you have an uncooperative ex-spouse it can seem impossible. Despite the difficulties, however, learning to co-parent is an essential part of raising your children to happy, healthy adults. Co-parenting amicably will ensure your child maintains a close relationship with both parents, providing them with a sense of stability and security that they may have loss during the divorce.
Why Co-parenting Is Sometimes So Difficult
A divorce, particularly if it’s a hostile one, can be exhausting and, at times, infuriating. Getting past such strong emotions is not an easy thing to do. You or your ex-spouse may have pent up resentments, unresolved conflicts, or you may simply be uncertain about what your role is now. You are no longer someone’s wife or husband. But, after so many years of defining yourself in that way (and parenting in that way) it can be difficult to now redefine your role. It is important to remember that divorcing your spouse does not mean you have also divorced your kids. You are still a parent, and as such you are still responsible for the lives and welfare of your children.
When dealing with an uncooperative ex-spouse there is one fact that you just have to learn to accept. That fact is that you cannot control your ex-spouse no matter how you much you may want to. Trying to do so will only make things worse. The truth of the matter is the two of you may never completely get over the bitterness you feel towards each other. What you can do, however, is remind yourself that these issues are yours, not your child’s. Both you and your ex should resolve to keep these issues away from the children. Do your part to adhere to this agreement and continue to follow this rule even if your ex-spouse fails to do so. Be aware of your own behavior and act to protect your children from adult dramas. Again, you cannot control the behavior of your ex-spouse. You can, however, control how you respond.
Focusing on your children is the key to co-parenting. It may help if you think of the relationship with your ex-spouse as a completely new one. This can be a good way to learn to separate your feelings from your behavior. Remember, co-parenting is about your children’s stability, happiness, and overall well-being. Being able to co-parent successfully is a great way to show you children that they are more important than whatever disagreements you may still have with your former spouse.
Tips for Peaceful Parenting
Get your feelings out somewhere else. Do not vent to your child or in front of your child
Keep conversations kid-focused
Never use your kids as messengers. This puts your child in the middle of your conflict
Keep your issues to yourself
Set a business-like tone. Your business is raising your kids. Speak to your ex-spouse as though you were collegue with this mutual goal in mind
Make requests instead of demands. Try terminology such as "Can we try...?" or "Would you be willing to...?"
Show restraint. Train youself not to overreact to your ext even when they're pushing your buttons
Never sabotage your child's relationship with the other parent
Never use your chid as a pawn to get back at your ex or to gain information about your ex-spouse
Never transfer feelings for your ex onto your child
Cooperative Parenting Vs. Parallel Parenting
Following a breakup, the goal of both parents should be to change the dynamic of their relationship to one that is based entirely on the child. This new relationship should have relatively low levels of conflict. This scenario is known as cooperative parenting and is the ideal situation for children of divorced or separated parents.
Cooperative parenting means that you and your ex-spouse have developed the ability to communicate effectively regarding your child without substantial conflict. This is the healthiest way for both parents to see to their child’s needs. Parents who utilize this approach will probably agree on most parenting values. They are also more likely to have relatively consistent parenting styles.
The second type of co-parenting style is known as parallel parenting. This co-parenting style is for those parents who are unable to parent cooperatively. Conflicts within these families tend to be higher, however, by using a parallel parenting approach they can be avoided. In parallel parenting each parent does their best job of parenting when the child is with them. These parents disengage from each other in an effort to keep conflicts down. They only communicate about major things involving the child. This cuts down on bickering and prevents debates regarding the other parent's parenting style.
The effects of divorce on children can be devastating. They have lost much of what was once normal for them. Learning to co-parent is essential to providing your child with a new normal that is healthy and happy. Do your part to provide your child with this environment even if your ex-spouse is uncooperative.