Tips on How To Co-Parent After a Breakup
It can be tough to co-parent after a breakup so we have some expert tips for successful co-parenting.
You will be dealing with differences in parenting styles, opinions and attitudes, while struggling with your feelings towards your ex.
When your child’s well-being is at stake it depends on the two of you co-operating and co-ordinating with each other.
You need to do everything you can to attain a successful co-parenting relationship with your ex.
Why Is It Important to Successfully Co-Parent After a Breakup?
Parents who achieve successful co-parenting have children who are happy and well adjusted in life.
Children are able to spend time with both parents and grow up feeling secure and loved. These children will grow to be more emotionally and mentally stable.
Adults who co-parent after a breakup have children less likely to develop depression, stress, anxiety and low self-esteem. This is compared to children from broken homes whose parents cannot get along.
How To Successfully Co-Parent After a Breakup
If you are struggling to co-parent following your break-up, here are 5 steps to help you out:
1. Set Aside Your Emotions
The main trick to successful co-parenting is to set aside all your feelings related to your ex and the failed relationship.
This is hard but necessary as it ensures that your children do not bear the brunt of your emotional turmoil.
To co-parent after a breakup avoid letting your emotions direct your behavior by:
- Venting out your feelings to others, be it your friends, family, therapist or even a pet.
- Exercise as an outlet for your negative emotions.
- Deep breathing, counting backwards from 10 or practicing other relaxation techniques to control your anger. These practices are especially helpful when you need to calm yourself while interacting with your ex.
- Giving yourself a little “me-time” to deal with your emotions.
2. Respect and Communicate With Each Other
Even though your feelings for your ex have changed, continue to respect each other and co-parent after a breakup.
Firstly, it simplifies your co-parenting journey. Secondly it sets a good example for your children.
When children observe their parents maintaining a relationship, they too learn to value and maintain their relationships.
One step essential to successful co-parenting is to communicate regularly with your ex. You will have peaceful interactions and conversations if you can:
- Use proper manners and treat your ex with kindness.
- Have child-centric conversations, discussing only the needs of your children. Avoid dwelling on the past and rehashing the “what-ifs.”
- Consider the communication as a business deal, meaning you speak to each other cordially and respectfully. This is most helpful for ex-couples who are recently trying to co-parent after a break-up.
- Listen to your ex and show that you value their inputs and views.
- Make requests, instead of statements or demands.
- Stay calm and composed during your interactions. Ignore confrontative statements and avoid overreacting to any comments made by your ex. Any reaction from you will only add fuel to the fire and this negativity can hinder successful co-parenting.
- Be considerate and flexible with schedules and dates.
- Admit to any mistakes or shortcomings and be open to apologizing. Apologizing is not a sign of weakness, rather it can help you heal and move on from the past.
3. Children in the Middle
Avoid putting your child in the middle of disputes with your ex when you co-parent after a breakup.
For instance, take care not to speak ill of, criticize, demean or belittle your ex in front of your children. Also do not air out any grievances that you have with your ex to your child, nor fight in front of them.
Remember that while your relationship status has changed, your ex will continue to be your child’s parent.
Successful co-parenting means children should not have to choose between parents. They must have the freedom to form relationships with both parents free from any influence or bias.
4. Team Co-Parent
Another key step to successful co-parenting is to work together as a team for your children. This will be reflected in the decisions that you make together for them.
It is often easy to get caught up in your differences and perceptions. We see this happen more frequently in the early days sorting out how to co-parent after a breakup.
But in co-parenting, the golden rule is to “focus on your child, and what is best for them.”
Your common goal is to provide your children with stability and continuity in their lives. To do this you must work together to:
Set consistent routines and rules: Instead of having two radically different environments, ensure that both homes follow similar rules for chores, schoolwork, curfews and discipline.
Have the same set of privileges and restrictions at both places.
Try to follow a close schedule for mealtimes, homework and bedtimes so that children do not have to adjust from one system to another.
Arrive at consensus decision making: Some decisions like those related to medical needs, schooling and finances must be taken in agreement with each other.
Compromise: It is only natural to have some disagreements with your ex over various issues.
In these situations successful co-parenting means communicate and compromise for the benefit of your children.
Learn to pick your fights and avoid using money as a weapon against each other. The bottom line is that you both only want the best for your children.
5. Keep Your Personal Relationship Separate from Your Co-Parenting
To co-parent after a breakup keep your personal lives away from your co-parenting goals.
Do not encroach in each other’s space or personal stuff. Instead build a new relationship with your ex based around your child and their interests.
Co-parenting after a breakup is usually going to be a bit tricky!
What can make it harder, is if you hold grudges against your ex and take away focus from the children.
For the sake of their happiness, it is imperative you forgive each other and move on with your lives.
Try working towards building a successful co-parenting relationship that focuses solely on your children and their needs.
An Occupational therapist, freelance content writer and more importantly a stay-at-home mom, Sarah, like all other parents juggles her many roles. Her passion for writing combined with her professional expertise as an Occupational therapist (working with children with special needs) has helped her craft content specific to child health, wellness and learning skills. At present, Sarah alternates her time between raising her two young children, and writing about what she knows best- children!