In an ideal world, divorced or separated parents would be able to let the past go and work together to raise healthy, happy kids in an environment free of conflict. Unfortunately, in the real world, strong emotions and hurt from the past can get in the way of parenting in a cooperative manner.
If you are a co-parent with an ex who is just not moving beyond the problems of the past, it’s important to keep in mind that you can only change yourself. While it is frustrating, you will never be able to control your ex’s behavior, and once you accept that, you’ll be able to move onto finding solutions for your needs.
About Your Co-Parent
The first thing you’ll need to do is take a closer look at your co-parent and the situation overall. Determining to what extent your co-parent refuses to engage will help you determine which approach to use. One thing to ask yourself is whether your ex is actually refusing to co-parent or if you are simply having the normal disagreements that tend to arise after a split.
If you determine it’s an actual refusal to co-parent, the next thing to consider is whether this lack of engagement is across the board or just isolated to certain areas–such as your ex not engaging with any requests to change parenting time but talking openly about the holiday schedule.
Keep in mind that if your ex is refusing to co-parent in all areas and won’t follow the parenting agreement terms, it’s time to speak to a family law attorney about your options.
Changing the Way You Communicate
In cases where the lack of engagement on your co-parent’s part seems to stem from conflict, it’s time to consider changing the way you communicate. In parallel parenting, for example, you limit direct contact with each other so you both disengage while still raising the kids in a good environment. Explore the different ways to communicate with each other until you find one that seems to work.
Conflict Stemming From Specific Areas
If your ex is refusing to engage only on certain topics, trying new communications systems may be the answer. Certain ways of communicating, such as text messages, can make conflict even worse, especially if these methods tempt you or your ex to drift onto old topics that don’t involve your children.
Consider adding tools to your co-parenting arsenal to help reduce the chance of miscommunication as this can also create or add to the conflict. If, for example, you are sharing expenses with your ex, try a shared expense app or program that you can both access to enter costs and receipts. This makes everything black and white and documented.
Scheduling is another area where upsetting miscommunication can happen. A shared calendar app can help cut down on any confusion about you and your ex’s work schedules, the shared parenting schedule, and your kid’s schedule.
Overall, when you find yourself with an ex who is not cooperating in parenting, it can feel very frustrating and disappointing. You thought you would be able to raise your kids in an environment free of conflict after your split, and now you’re dealing with a co-parent who is not willing to work toward this same goal. However, regardless of your co-parent’s engagement, you can still take steps to help create a more positive atmosphere for yourself and, more importantly, your kids. Whether that means changing how you are approaching parenting, trying new communication methods or adding some tools to your arsenal, there are ways to reach your parenting goals.