Co-parenting after divorce is never easy. This is especially true when you have a contentious relationship or if your ex-partner is not cooperative. You will be subject to a tremendous amount of stress about your ex-spouse’s parenting skills, as well as the financial needs of your child. Dealing with divorce is hard as it is; throwing the challenges of co-parenting into the mix will make it extra hard.
What Is Co-Parenting?
Co-parenting is a unique arrangement between two ex-spouses who have a child together. When you go through a divorce, one is left to gain custody of the child. Regardless of who has custody of the child, both parties are responsible for caring for and providing for the needs of the child or children. In a normal situation, both parents are expected to play an active role in the development and growth of their child. But when the parents are separated, it becomes extra challenging. One parent tends to be more present than the other, depending on the arrangement you have reached.
Joint custody arrangements can be stressful, and oftentimes infuriating. But for the sake of your child, you need to let go of your resentment towards your former spouse. You need to make shared decisions and time for the child. This is the best way to ensure that your child gets the stability and emotional support that he or she needs need from the parents.
But when your ex-spouse is uncooperative or refuses to provide their share of the responsibility, it poses a big problem. You are left with the sole responsibility of caring for the child in terms of financial, emotional, and physical needs. If you are in this situation, you might feel hopeless about your case. So, how do you deal with an uncooperative ex? How do you ensure that your child is the number one priority and that their needs are met?
How to Co-Parent With An Uncooperative Ex
Are you frustrated by the lack of cooperation from your ex-spouse in co-parenting your child? Here are a few steps that can help you deal with this problem for the sake of your offspring:
- Learn to set aside your hurt and anger. When co-parenting, your own feelings about your ex are not important. Save those feelings for your friends, counselor, or coach. You have to be strong for your kids. Bad mouthing your ex-spouse can be unhealthy for them. It is okay to feel hurt or angry, especially when your ex has abandoned their parenting duties. But you have to stay kid-focused. You need to do what is best for your child/ren at this moment.
- Maintain strong communication lines. Communication is the single most important factor in any relationship. Even when you are divorced, you need to constantly communicate with your ex. Most spouses would want nothing to do with their ex when they divorce. But for the sake of your children, and to ensure that their needs are fulfilled, you must communicate. When communicating, set a business-like tone and don’t let your anger get in the way. It is also important to commit to listening. Communication is not a one-way street; you must be open to hearing what your ex has to say. Remember, you are both the parents and co-parenting means that you have to make shared decisions.
- Be a team. This is yet another challenge when you are co-parenting with an ex-spouse who isn’t being cooperative. But you will have to make decisions together. Aside from communicating or talking consistently, you must work as a team. The best way to achieve this mindset is to think of your kids. Seeing the benefits that it can bring your child should motivate both of you to be civil about your situation. It is also a good idea to come up with rules and schedules on visits and other activities involving the child/ren.
- Don’t ever sabotage your kids’ relationship with your ex. No matter how uncooperative your ex might be, just don’t go there. Do not speak poorly of your ex in front of your kids. Give them a chance to perform their role in this joint custody arrangement. Do not make them feel guilty or make threats involving the kids. Provide an avenue for your child to communicate with and have a relationship with your ex.
- Make visitations easier. Whether your ex-spouse would visit your kids or they go to your ex’s house a few times each month, make it as easy as possible. Help your children to pack their things. Drop them off or schedule a pick-up time for the kids. This is not a normal routine for the children, so make the transition as easy for them as you can.
When it comes to divorce and co-parenting, it’s the children who suffer most–not the parents. You need to think about that when you are dealing with conflicts between you and your ex. Be the responsible parent so you can inspire the other to become one, too. According to experts, it is not the divorce or separation that hurts the children but the conflict. If you can maintain a cooperative joint custody arrangement, your child/ren can feel more secure and loved. They will also be mentally and emotionally healthier than if you were unable to fulfill your duties as parents in a divorce scenario.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and author of the acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — With Love! To get her free ebook, coaching services, expert interviews, programs, e-courses and other valuable resources on divorce and co-parenting, visit: http://www.childcentereddivorce.com
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