Co-parenting can present many challenges in the best circumstances, but a difficult ex-spouse can sometime make it seem impossible. You both agreed that co-parenting was the best choice for your children, but now you may feel like there is no end to the same types of arguments that contributed to your divorce.
A difficult ex can complicate your co-parenting experience. However, there are actions you can take to make the experience as successful as possible.
Identify your goals
When you are focused on the difficulties between you and your ex, you can easily lose sight of the reasons why you were willing to co-parent in the first place. One way to cope with co-parenting challenges is to identify your goals. For example, your goals may be to help your children cope with your divorce and maintain a relationship with both parents.
Focus on what you can control
Once you have identified your goals, it can be beneficial to focus on doing what you can do to meet those goals. However, you should avoid spending energy on things you cannot control.
For example, you can control how you interact with your children, but you cannot control how your ex interacts with them. With that in mind, try to focus your energy on being present when you are with your children, meeting your children’s needs and maintaining a close relationship with your children.
Consider adjustments to your parenting situation
If you and your ex have a high conflict relationship, your children may not be benefiting from your parenting situation in the ways you had intended. Children who are not shielded from their parents’ conflicts can feel like they need to choose sides or that they must reject one parent, which was probably not your goal for co-parenting.
If your conflict with your spouse is impacting your purpose for co-parenting, it may be appropriate to consider parallel parenting. Parallel parenting is a form of co-parenting that allows parents to disengage from each other while remaining close with their children. Typically, this involves keeping communication business-like and communicating primarily through email or texting.
If you are having a hard time co-parenting with a difficult ex-spouse, you may not need to give up on co-parenting altogether. There are steps you can take to make your co-parenting experience as successful as possible for you and your children.