5 Common Co-Parenting Mistakes
While a separation may not always run smoothly, it is possible to make co-parenting work. in this article, we’re sharing tips on how to avoid 5 common co-parenting mistakes.
photo by Nathan Dumlao
When children are involved and caught up in the mix (whether you’re getting divorced in Northern Ireland or North America) – things can be quickly become messy. Both parties may be struggling to navigate themselves through a range of emotions, all whilst trying to put their best parenting foot forward.
As a result, conflict and miscommunication can easily happen and while this might be understandable, the ones most affected are often the children caught up in co-parenting nightmares. In this article, we’re sharing tips on avoiding these five common co-parenting mistakes.
What Are Common Co-Parenting Mistakes?
The transition from being a family unit living together to co-parenting living apart can be tough and it’s normal to make mistakes as you adjust. However, the focus should always be on making the transition as smooth and stress free for the children as possible.
In this section, we’re looking at five common co-parenting issues and mistakes – and how to avoid situations from arising:
Common Co-Parenting Mistakes #1
Stick to Schedules
When separating from your partner, it will usually be necessary to draw up a schedule for the child to visit the parent that they don’t live with. Once this schedule is in place, and is agreed by both parties, it’s important to stick to it unless there’s a very good reason for making changes.
Regularly cancelling or asking for changes can soon escalate into arguments between the two parents as well as upsetting the child.
photo by Alexander Dummer
Common Co-Parenting Mistakes #2
Adopt a Flexible Approach to Some Situations
In direct contrast to the last point, you may need to incorporate flexibility at some point during your co-parenting journey. While schedules should not be changed constantly on a whim, things can and do happen which will require a little compassion and support, even if it’s hard to give.
Further Reading: A Sensible Guide To Co-Parenting, 3 Thoughtful Tips
For example, if your ex-partner has an important job interview or a funeral to attend, they may request a change to the schedule. While this may be an inconvenience, flexibility will make things more pleasant all around. You may wish to request a similar favour at some point so it’s good to stay in a favourable light whilst co-parenting.
Common Co-Parenting Mistakes #3
Avoid Unnecessary Conflicts
While some divorces are amicable, others are the exact opposite. If the relationship ended badly, you’re unlikely to have any warm and fuzzy feelings toward your ex. Although you can’t control how you feel, it’s important for parents to present a united front when with the children in order to keep situations light and nontoxic for the children.
In most cases, your contact with your ex could be limited to the handover of children, during which it’s important to remain civil and even friendly with your former spouse. Seeing parents get on sets a good example for the children in how they handle conflict within relationships in the future.
photo by Nathan Dumlao
Common Co-Parenting Mistakes #4
Avoid the Inquisition
When your child has been visiting with your ex-partner, you will naturally be curious about the state of their home and any new partners. You may be tempted to quiz your child about these things in the guise of needing to know for reasons of parental responsibility. Don’t.
Further Reading: Parenting – How to Make More Time for Your Children
Interrogating your child about the minutiae of your ex’s life can be really unsettling and can make your child feel that they are ‘telling’ by revealing details of the other parent’s private life. Instead, limit your questions to what the child did during the visit and whether they had a nice time.
You can, however, make it clear that your child can talk to you about anything that may bother them during a visit with the ex.
Common Co-Parenting Mistakes #5
Understand Discipline Differences
It’s important to understand each other’s parenting styles and methods of discipline between the two households. Children respond well to consistency and order, sometimes knowing they can ‘get away’ with some things with one parent may cause unnecessary issues for both parents down the line when it comes to how they follow rules and restrictions.
By understanding each other’s parenting styles, it makes it easier to keep rules and punishments the same across the board and children know where they stand. Of course, you will have some differences but it’s good to set some boundaries the same so that there’s little confusion when it comes to rules.
photo by Boxed Water Is Better
Avoiding common co-parenting mistakes…
Co-parenting can be a minefield, particularly when your ex is difficult and there’s a lot of emotion to overcome. Not to mention if there’s new partners added into the mix! But no matter what your relationship with your ex, it’s important to always remember that your child is the innocent party.
In most cases, your child could already be unsettled and upset by the separation itself and the last thing he or she needs is to see that animosity continue following the break. Depending on the age of your child, you may have several years of co-parenting ahead of you – which can be exhausting if you and your ex are constantly fighting or trying to one up each other.
Instead, try to work with your partner to present a united front with just one goal – the happiness of your child.
PIN: Common Co-Parenting Mistakes