Let’s face it raising your child with someone other than your ex can be just as difficult as co-parenting with your ex. Between different styles of communication and parenting, it can be a complete nightmare. After all, you may not know your ex’s significant other well and may have some resentment towards that person. It is important to recognize this and try your best to keep your personal feelings out of your co-parenting relationship for your child’s sake. When raising a child, it is crucial to keep their best interest in mind at all times. Here are a few tips to effectively co-parent with your ex’s significant other.
Three Keys to Co-Parent with Your Ex’s Significant Other
(1) Forms of Communication
Is there anything you can do to improve your relationship with the co-parent? Finding an effective form of communication is key. While texting can be easy, it can also be difficult to interpret and cause unnecessary miscommunications and frustrations. Maybe making a rule to only talk on the phone will work best for you or only talk through the two biological parents. Maybe it is best to set a weekly time to talk where all the parents involved in the co-parenting can discuss the upcoming week’s schedule; this could be done via phone conference or in person during a weekly exchange. Maybe it is a good idea to have an agenda for the meeting and stick to those points. This will ensure important topics are not forgotten and for everyone to have a turn to speak at the meeting. Maybe set a rule where texts should only be exchanged during emergency situations and then define what constitutes an “emergency” so it is clear and everyone is on the same page. Find what works for you and the co-parent relationship and stick to that. There are also a number of online co-parenting tools such as ourfamilywizard.com which serves as a platform for parents to communicate and track that communication. There is also a great calendar that can be very helpful as the children involved grow older and became involved in more activities.
(2) Setting Rules
If there are issues or tension between you and the other co-parent, I suggest addressing the issue immediately. Handle in a tasteful manner rather than let the emotions build up. Good rules of thumb are (1) not to talk poorly about the other co-parent in front of the child (2) stick to any schedules because even though a change may work out for you, it could become more difficult for the other parent involved to change their schedule without notice and (3) give as much advance notice if you are going to be late to pick ups or drop offs. Be sure to not set realistic rules; this will do no good if they are merely broken.
(3) Issues to Address
Schedules are probably the biggest thing co-parents need to coordinate especially in today’s world. It’s important to adhere to the schedule and be on time for pick ups/drops offs because the other parents are relying on you. Last minute changes to the schedule can cause a lot of annoyance for the parties involved. Before making a decision or saying something, really think about how it can be perceived from the other parents involved.
Other big issues are parenting style such as discipline, bed times, and diets. Sometimes it’s good to create a contract-like document or a parenting agreement that lays out the terms by which the parents strive to raise the child. It can be simple or as detailed as you want. It could be a good parenting tool because if there are issues in the future, parents can look back at the agreement and try to adjust their parenting styles to reflect the agreed upon goals. One of the keys of co-parenting, is realizing that you are not solely in control and you need to be open to alternative parenting styles. It will no doubt be frustrating at times but is imperative you accept the fact.
If you cannot come to an agreement on an issue maybe think about hiring a mediator. Mediators are great; they are trained professionals and if you hire an experienced family law mediator, they will likely have an assortment of suggestions to resolves any issue you are having. Talking issues out with a therapist is another helpful way to take some of the unnecessary emotions out of the problem and help you focus on the real issue at hand. Not responding the same day to a frustrating message or at least consulting with someone else before responding are also helpful tools in ensuring your response is not spiteful.
Whatever co-parenting method you chose, keep in mind communication is key. Issues often arise when there is a lack of communication. I encourage you to keep a constant and emotionless communication stream open and to always consider the best interest of the child involved.
Complex situations of co-parenting with your Ex’s significant other require sound legal advice from experienced family law attorneys. Contact Anderson & Boback if you would like to discuss your family law situation or have questions about child custody jurisdiction.