When Co-Parents Don’t Get Along: Strategies for Raising Happy and Healthy Children
By: Danica Joan Dockery, M.Ed
Divorce and separation can be a difficult process for everyone involved, especially when children are part of the equation. Co-parenting can be challenging even in the best of circumstances, but when parents don’t get along, it can make the situation even more complicated. However, it’s important to remember that despite any animosity or conflict between co-parents, the ultimate goal is to raise happy and healthy children. Here are some strategies to help when co-parents don’t get along.
- Put your children first
It’s essential to prioritize your children’s well-being above your own feelings or grievances. Regardless of how you feel about your co-parent, your children need both of their parents in their lives. Try to put your personal differences aside and focus on what’s best for your children. Always consider how your actions and words affect them, and avoid putting them in the middle of your conflicts.
- Keep communication respectful and clear
Effective communication is key to successful co-parenting, even when you don’t get along. Keep communication respectful and clear by avoiding blaming, name-calling, or using your children as messengers. Stick to the facts, be concise, and avoid lengthy discussions that could lead to arguments. Use communication methods that work for both parties, such as email or text messaging, and keep a record of all communication.
- Set boundaries and expectations
When co-parenting, it’s important to set boundaries and expectations for both parents. These boundaries can include limits on communication, guidelines for pick-up and drop-off, and guidelines for disciplining children. Be clear about what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t, and work together to ensure that both parents are following the same guidelines.
- Focus on consistency and routine
Children thrive on consistency and routine, especially during times of change. Coparents should work together to establish consistent schedules for parenting time, as well as routines for meals, bedtime, and other activities. This can help children feel secure and stable, even when their parents are not getting along.
- Seek outside support
Co-parenting can be difficult, especially when parents don’t get along. It’s important to seek outside support, such as counseling or mediation, to help you work through any conflicts or issues that arise. A trained professional can provide guidance and support to help you navigate co-parenting successfully.
In conclusion, co-parenting can be challenging, especially when parents don’t get along. However, it’s important to remember that the ultimate goal is to raise happy and healthy children. By prioritizing your children’s well-being, keeping communication respectful and clear, setting boundaries and expectations, focusing on consistency and routine, and seeking outside support when necessary, coparents can successfully navigate the challenges of raising children together.
Danica Joan Dockery is a certified family mediator, anger management/domestic violence specialist and co-parenting expert, the author of “A Happy Child Co-Parenting Course” a court ordered family stabilization course for parents who are navigating the challenges of co-parenting after a breakup. She is also the founder of Kids Need Both, Inc and co-creator of the Hope4Families.net platform, a collaborative community that provides education, support and resources to families.