As you all know, I’ve recently become a single parent and it’s been one heck of an adjustment. It’s a constant work in progress but I’d like to think me and Ted’s father have a strong relationship despite our differences – and that’s been a huge help in the adjustment from ‘parenting’ together into the very different world of ‘co-parenting’ together.
Co-parenting is the term coined for families that share the duties of parenting a child, due to various reasons. It can be a minefield and there are horrendous horror stories about coparenting, but on the flip side of the coin you have very positive experiences too. I like to think we have a pretty good co-parenting relationship and I’m gong to share some of the key points we work with.
Now, it isn’t easy.
It will never be easy, separating from the person you love and having to remain in contact and remain civil depending on how the ‘living together’ side of the relationship ended.. But it does get easier. I know some of the tips below might seem impossible, silly and rather peculiar but as time goes on they’ll slowly click into place and make sense.
Listen to your child. As soon as your child is able to express their own opinions then you should take them on board and respect them. This takes pressure off of you when it comes to some decisions, but it also shows your little one that you appreciate their views and that’s key.
Being able or willing to talk through and compromise with each other. This is one of those that will probably come with time. Being able to talk makes things so much easier and a big part of that is compromising with the other parent. There are two of you, and both of you should be working towards making your child (or children) the priority. If you struggle finding the balance of being civil, then it’s best to keep your communication child focused.
Set ground rules. This might be easier said than done at first, but it’s easier to get by and get on when you’re both reading from the same page.
Let go of old resentment and try come to terms with unresolved feelings. Treat your relationship like a business partnership and don’t let old scars influence your feelings – a lot of people I’ve spoken to have found that the ‘business partner’ analogy works for them and helps them process matters of the heart efficiently. It’s pointless at this stage going back over old arguments and picking apart the other parent – it’s a waste of feelings and energy.
Pick your battles. This links with letting go of old resentment and coming to terms with unresolved feelings.. It’s really easy to fall into a trap of constantly fighting when emotions run high, and that’s normal. But as things settle, the best thing is to pick your battles. It’s normal to have conflicting parenting styles, and a lot of the challenges facing parents is to find that balance between the both of you.
The last few points are pretty self explanatory..
Don’t argue in front of your child/children. This should really go without saying. Your little ones look to you for guidance and to be a good example. Catty comebacks, shouting and emotional outbursts are not an example you want to give your child for what’s normal in a relationship. It doesn’t show either of you in a good light.
Finally, promote a mutual respect for the other parent and respect boundaries. Time will heal wounds and you will both move on – that’s okay. Respect the boundary of a new relationship and expect the same in return.