Co-Parenting with EX can be extremely difficult for some and seamless for others. This is not how you pictured it, this not what you wanted, and it is not ideal…. But there are ways that you can make co-parenting work for you in the best interested of your children. Remember this is someone that YOU chose to have children with and this is their other parent.

Here are 17 tips for successful co-parenting:

  1. Have a plan: Having a very clear parenting plan at the get go of your separation can solve many many current and future issues that may arise. A clear parenting plan can set out an access schedule, a holiday schedule, and summer vacation schedule which takes away all of the guess work. In addition, a clear parenting plan will outline strategies for when one of you cannot care for the children on your time, and any other information you wish to have outlined. When a clear parenting plan is set out there are no questions and it makes everything predictable.
  2. Be empathetic: It can be very difficult to show empathy for your ex. Maybe they have hurt you in the past, or they have caused a lot of conflict for you. Practicing empathy with the other parent as well as with your children is an imperative aspect of successful co-parenting. Keeping in mind that everyone is doing the best they can with what they know.
  3. Go to the source: If the children are talking about the other parent listen, but listen not to be critical of the other parent. If the children share something that is concerning, go to the source. Talk to the other parent, clarify the situation and come to an understanding.
  4. Be flexible: Yes, plans are extremely important for successful co-parenting, but flexibility is also important. Life doesn’t always go as planned and we need to able to adapt and improve when the time comes.
  5. Listen and hear: There is a big difference between listening and hearing. When your children or the other parent is talking about their difficulties, hear them, take in what they are saying and try to see things from their perspective. When you do this you are able to garnish more compassion and understanding for the other person that is sharing.
  6. Pick your battles: Not everything is worth fighting over. Pick and choose which battles are important for you to become involved with. Know that you and your ex probably have different parenting styles and that is ok. If you lived with each other you would still have different parenting styles, that doesn’t necessarily mean the other parent is wrong.
  7. Stay on the same page: It is important that you and your ex are on the same page about the big stuff. You may see things differently sometimes and you may disagree about certain aspect of parenting, but being on the same page about the big stuff will save a lot of arguments.
  8. Practice mutual respect: Practicing mutual respect is difficult in many households. But it is important that you remember that your ex was once someone you had feelings for and respected. When you hear things that trigger you, wait to deal with it until you can do it respectfully. Treat them the way you would want to be treated, even if it is very difficult at times.
  9. Keep the children out of it: The children don’t need to know everything about every decision, they don’t need to be the go between, and they certainly don’t need to be involved in any conflict or disagreements between you and the other parent. Have a clause in your parenting agreement about how to handle conflict when you and the other parent disagree.
  10. Encourage children to address the other parent: When the children come home and express issues they are having with the other parent, encourage them to discuss this with that parent. Help them to understand that it is important for them to talk with the other parent and clear up their difficulties with them.
  11. Keep exchanges short and to the point: Keeping things short and to the point helps to minimize the amount of conflict that could arise from triggers or emotions.
  12. Share accomplishments, pictures, and other information: Sharing in the positives when one parent cannot be there is very important. It shows the children that you are on the same page, that you are inclusive, and that the other parent is an important part of their lives.
  13. Keep your thoughts to yourself: Don’t speak poorly about the other parent in front of or around your children. They will hear you.
  14. Enjoy your time: Enjoy the time to yourself. Do things for you. When you do this, you focus less on what your children are doing with the other parent and focus more on yourself. Giving yourself the opportunity to recharge will not only benefit you but also your children because then you can be the best parent you can be.
  15. Don’t sweat the small stuff: Hearing about the other parent’s decisions, parenting style, or anything else can sometimes be a trigger and cause irritation or aggravation inside of you. Unless it is big enough that you feel you need to step in, let it go. Being irritated or aggravated over things that you cannot control only wastes your energy.
  16. Let go of the “my stuff, your stuff”: When the children have something, allow it to be THEIR stuff. Having stuff at mom’s and stuff at dad’s that cannot be brought to the other home can be stressful. This makes children feel as though things from your house are not welcomed at the other parent’s and vice versa.
  17. Forgive: Forgiveness is not always easy. Forgiving the other party can free you from negativity, from judgement, and from draining your energy on something you cannot change. Forgive them for you and for you children. Release yourself of the judgement of the other parent, be you, let them be them and come to a place of acceptance.