Co-parenting after getting a divorce is not easy under the best of circumstances. If your marriage ended badly and your ex-spouse is being difficult, it can make raising your children together more difficult.
When you’re co-parenting with a tough ex, use these tips to make life easier and better for you and your children.
Set Clear Boundaries
Children thrive on consistency. It makes them feel safe and secure. Set boundaries as much as you can regarding what your kids can and cannot do. It is easy to feel guilty and want to be the “fun” parent by satisfying your child’s every single need, and your ex might feel as if they have to do the same. However, this won’t provide your child with any discipline, and they may end up entitled instead.
If your ex keeps giving your child presents and allows them to do things you would not permit, you still must keep things on your side as consistent as you can. Setting boundaries may make you the “bad guy” now, but your children will be grateful for it later, especially when they are adults.
Don’t Badmouth Your Ex to Your Child
Never talk negatively about your ex to your child or anyone else in earshot of your child. Children are influenced by the environment they are raised in. While your ex may be getting on your nerves, badmouthing them to your child or in a way where they can hear it will only make them feel bad. Your child may even feel guilty for loving their other parent because of the things you say.
If you need to vent about your ex, do so only to a trusted friend or relative far away from the children. Make sure this is not a person who may repeat what you say to your child.
Focus on Your Child
Co-parenting with your ex is all about your child and not your previous marital relationship. Adopt a business-like attitude when dealing with your ex. The business is your children, so you should only talk to your ex about things that have to do with your children. If you prevent your spouse from dragging you into conversations about past events in your marriage, eventually they will stop bringing those topics up. This can ease the tension between the two of you and allow you to co-parent more cooperatively.
Manage Your Expectations
Manage any expectations you have of your difficult ex as a person and parent. For example, if your ex was too busy to spend a lot of time with your child when you were still married, do not expect them to suddenly have more time now. This will make things more difficult for you, but it is best to be reasonable about how things will play out.
Get a Support System
Parenting requires work to begin with, and it can be exhausting when you’re dealing with an uncooperative ex. You will need a solid support system of family and friends to make things easier for you. Don’t be afraid to accept help when you need it, either!
The end of a marriage is never easy, and it’s far more difficult when children are involved. When the co-parents just are not on good terms, their split can have a negative impact on their children. While you can’t control what your ex does and how they behave, you can control how you handle things and how you respond. Always keep the needs and well-being of your children in mind when you are dealing with a difficult ex as this will help guide you to the best decisions in your situation.