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No matter how you feel about your ex, if you have children together, you will still be a part of each other’s lives in some capacity. A healthy relationship for a family of divorce requires both parties to practice the 5 C’s of co-parenting- Communication, Cooperation, Compromise, Consistency, and Comply.
When it comes to communicating with your co-parent, how you say it is just as important as what you say. Instead of making demands, try asking in a firm, but friendly manner. This doesn’t mean you need to be best friends with your co-parent, but taking a kinder approach to your communication with them is more likely to yield the results you’re looking for. Listening is another important skill to have when communicating with your co-parent. Even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying, hearing them out is showing them that they are valued as an equal partner in parenting your children.
It takes two, willing parties for cooperation to be achieved, and while that’s not always possible- especially if your co-parent has a high conflict personality– the willingness to try is half the battle. A healthy co-parenting relationship involves cooperation in many capacities, from changing the parenting schedule last minute to settling on a place to meet for parenting exchanges. Life happens. Things are inevitably going to come up that will throw a wrench in the most perfectly laid-out divorce agreement. That willingness to go with the flow will reduce your stress, and, most importantly, the stress on your children.
The saying “It’s better to bend a little than to break” perfectly describes what it’s like compromising in a co-parenting relationship. With divorce comes a lot of independence, and that includes parenting. You get used to being the only decision-maker in your household, which can make compromising with your co-parent even harder when the time comes. Reminding yourself that it’s better to give a little now than to end up in a court battle over what started off as a minor issue will hopefully encourage you to compromise more. Learn to pick your battles. Not every disagreement is worth a big fight with your co-parent.
Children endure a lot of change when their parents get divorced. Although they are resilient, keeping things as consistent as possible between both households can ease some of that burden. This doesn’t mean you have to have things exactly the same at both houses, but keeping things like bedtimes and morning routines as consistent as possible can help your children adjust to the divorce better.
Your divorce agreement is there for a reason. While it’s important to compromise and cooperate with your co-parent, sticking to what you’ve established in your divorce agreement as much as possible ensures everyone is on the same page. Things will run a lot smoother for all involved, but most importantly for your children. If you find that your divorce agreement isn’t working for your family, don’t be afraid to enter mediation to make changes. It’s better to adjust things as soon as possible versus letting things build-up to the point where they end up in court.
If you struggle with any of these 5 C’s of co-parenting, just look to the beginning of the word “co-parenting” to remind yourself of why you’re doing it. “Co” stands for joint; mutual; common. You and your ex have a common interest in your children. This is more than enough reason to keep trying to build a healthy co-parenting relationship.