Dealing with an ex is difficult enough, but add children to the mix and things can get downright ugly! Adrienne C. Laursen, LMFT, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of The Engagement Coach, discusses tips for successful co-parenting, and forming a new relationship with your ex.
If you have an amicable relationship with your ex, then try to set some boundaries for co-parenting. If your ex refuses to cooperate, then make a vow to yourself, no matter how difficult, to follow these guidelines on your own.
• Don't try to control one another - The only person you can control is YOU and the only behavior you can control is YOURS!
• Never put your child in the middle. Even when you think it's in his/her best interest! You will never come out ahead by telling your child why there "other" parent isn't good enough.
• Never force your child to take sides regarding scheduling, planning visits, and/or living arrangements.
• Do not use your child as a spy to gain information on your ex's life.
• Refuse to sabotage your child's relationship with their other parent. It was your decision to end the relationship, not your child's. Remember that.
• Don't expect your child to "handle things like an adult". They're called children for a reason… they're not adults! And no matter how old they are, they're still your child and you're still their parent.
• Agree to try your hardest to instill crucial values in your child, like confidence, good self-esteem, feelings of accomplishment, healthy relationship models, etc.
• Go to counseling if necessary to work through your distaste for one another. (either by yourself, or as a co-parenting couple)
• Find the best way to communicate with either other, commit to it, and stick to it. If you can only stand one another by texting, then stick to what works.
• Commit to never allowing your child to be the go-between for information, discipline, money, schedules, etc. They are things you need to deal with as parents.
• Always act in a way that you can be proud of, especially when it's the most difficult to do so. It's hard to remember this in the moment, but being the bigger person will pay off one day. I promise.
For more information on Adrienne's counseling services and free relationship tips, please visit her website at www.TheEngagementCoach.com.