Responsibilities Involved in Co-Parentingby Kay Ireland
Co-parenting probably wasn't your Plan A when you and your ex had a child, but it's one of the realities of life. If you truly plan on making co-parenting a success, it's time to retract that pointing finger and instead look inward to make sure you're holding up your end of the co-parenting bargain. By fulfilling your child's needs first, you ensure that you're doing everything you can to make your new normal a success for you and your family.
You and your ex are no longer together for a reason, and some of it could be traced back to poor communication. Misunderstandings, the silent treatment and a bevy of other communication woes can take your relationship issues right into your parenting style. Clear, regular and fair communication is your responsibility as a co-parent so that rules, parameters and issues don't go unnoticed or disrespected. Even if you simply don't like talking to your ex, you can still text, email and make the occasional call to ensure that your child isn't caught in the middle.
Dying to bash your ex's new girl with your friends? Fine. But make sure your child is far away when it happens or zip your lip completely. Co-parenting requires a high degree of maturity from both parents. By recognizing that you have a huge responsibility to your child to play nice, you can retract your claws and be adults about the situation. Never grill your child for information about your ex, vent to your child about your ex's behavior or bash him when your child is within earshot. In short? Grow up.
At your house, your child goes to sleep at 8 p.m., but your ex lets him stay up until 9 o'clock. Sometimes, a little compromise goes a long way to smooth the wrinkles between you and your co-parent. By giving in to some of the smaller issues, you'll have a better foothold when it comes to communicating what you really want for your child. An extra half-hour of bedtime won't matter in the scheme of things, and that compromise can help create a healthy, giving relationship between you and your ex.
Before you fly off the handle over something that your ex has done, take a step back. By walking a mile in both your co-parent's and your child's shoes, you'll gain greater perspective. That perspective is one of your responsibilities as a co-parent since it gives you better insight into how your ex thinks. You might be furious to find out that your ex bought your child that pricey toy he wanted, but perspective might spell out the fact that your ex feels guilty or is trying to bolster a suffering parent-child relationship. Remember that your ex isn't operating solely to annoy you and use that knowledge and perspective to calm anger and enjoy a better overall relationship.
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