If you are co-parents by choice, you may have taken your time to find a trustworthy and like-minded person to raise your child with. You might even have become close friends over the years. If you’ve become co-parents as a result of a divorce or a separation, the situation is a bit different. It’s common for ex-partners to have negative feelings for each other.
Whether you are friends with your co-parent or not, maintaining a good relationship with them can be challenging. A stressful job, a busy life, personal issues, problems with the family or temporary fatigue, there are many reasons that can lead a good relationship to end in bitterness, arguments or simply the feeling of gradually drifting apart from one another.
Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to preserve your relationship with your co-parent. It’s important for you, your co-parent, your partner (if you have one), and of course, your child. Because yes, your child’s well-being is your top priority, and what they need is to see their parents on good terms in order to feel secure and happy.
Communication is key
We can’t say it enough, effective communication is key to a successful relationship. If you don’t live under the same roof and you share custody of your child, it’s important that you regularly share information about them with the other parent. It will help you to feel fully involved in your child’s day-to-day life, even when it’s not your parenting time.
However, don’t limit the topics to your child’s life. Talk also about yourself and anything else that interests you. This will maintain and reinforce the bond that you and your co-parent have created. If your co-parent is also your friend, make sure that you spend quality time together frequently, not just on each others doorstep.
Talk, don’t fight
There will be a time when you’ll disagree on things, whether this is discipline or sleepovers. Every set of parents disagrees with each other now and then. This is fine and perfectly normal. It’s the way you handle your divergences of opinion that matters. So, before you start an argument with your co-parent because they did something wrong (according to you), discuss the issue with them calmly. Try to understand why they did what they did, and express your point of view. You don’t need to raise your voice and above all, don’t fight in front of your child.
Find an agreement when it comes to the rules
Every parent has their own notion of what is good parenting and what isn’t, and you and your co-parent probably have your own ideas on how to raise your child. However, if you’re sharing custody of your child, it’s best that you reach an agreement regarding the rules in both homes. Not only will you create a stable environment for your child, this could also mean fewer disagreements in the future.
So, sit down with your co-parent and discuss what the rules should be regarding diet, discipline, rewards, bedtime, meal time, sleepovers during school days and time spent in front of screens.
Follow your written co-parenting agreement
You can easily avoid anger or resentment with your co-parent by simply following your co-parenting agreement. Created preferably before the conception or at least the birth of your child (if you are co-parents by choice and not as the result of a separation), the co-parenting agreement serves to have your intentions and wishes regarding your child’s upbringing formally recorded in writing. The clauses of this document should address matters such as visiting schedules, who is the main care giver, and decisions regarding education or spirituality.
Write down the schedules
Good organization means peace of mind. Having schedules determined in advance will allow you to avoid any misunderstandings regarding all upcoming events, birthdays or visiting times. Not only will writing everything down help you to avoid lapses of memory, this will also easily determine who’s right or wrong, and, therefore, will serve to minimize dishonesty and tensions.
Try to see things from their perspective
When you don’t understand your co-parent’s reaction or behavior, try to see things from their point of view. There is a reason they did or said what they did/said. This could be because of a hard time at work, because they had an argument with their partner or simply because they were tired. Try to understand them. Putting yourself in their shoes can really help you to enjoy a better relationship with them.
So, your co-parent let your child drink soda after 8 pm, despite the fact that they know you’re against it. Or they let them play computer games until 10 pm whereas bedtime is supposed to be at 9 pm during school days. Well, sometimes, it’s best to just let it go. After all, your co-parent wants the best for your child too. Before you get angry, ask yourself whether this worth an argument with your co-parent or not.
However, if you realize that they keep ignoring your initial agreement and that they let your child drink soda (for example) every day, then you can consider starting a conversation with them, politely.
Get the family together
Whether it’s for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, holidays or weekends, regularly get the family together – the co-parents, your child, your respective partners and perhaps their children. Your child will be happy to spend quality time with their two (or more) parents.
If you didn’t have much free time recently to talk to each other, a family get-together is a great opportunity to reconnect with your co-parent and to catch up on their latest news.
Be willing to help each other
Last piece of advice: you can build a great relationship with your co-parent by accepting to help each other. You could, for instance, agree to be each others baby sitter and be there to look after the kids when they have an appointment or a date. This will allow you to save money, and you’ll be happy when they return the favor.