How To Make Co-Parenting Easier
One of the challenges of co-parenting surrounds the work of navigating the past relationship with the co-parenting one. Let me give you an example for clarity. Imagine a couple that have spent over a decade together. The couple like most had their fair share of ups and downs. They separate and like most, the separation comes with an extensive history of unresolved difficulties. Conversations that were not finished and wounds that would do well with healing. This couple shifts to the position of becoming co-parents.
The challenge can occur when the couple attempts to succeed in co-parenting while mixing in their past intimate relationship history. One partner during a conversation about parenting finds themselves upset due to the conversation being about providing their child with quality time. One partner goes a little too close to their past intimate relationship. They do this by bringing up the past and sharing “You never gave me time in marriage, and you are doing the same thing to our child. You only care about yourself.”
You are reading this because you want to know how to make co-parenting easier. The purpose of the case example above was to give you clarity on one of the most common challenges co-parents experience. The journey of moving forward while holding a difficult past.
6 Ways To Make Co-parenting Easier
1. Remove negative patterns.
Improving in the area of co-parenting must include the recognition of the behaviors that are hurting the co-parenting relationship. Common behaviors to remove in co-parenting include:
- If you ignore the other co-parent when they are trying to say goodnight to their child.
- Displaying disrespectful behavior towards the other co-parent in front of the child.
- Failing to follow through on what you say you will do.
Think about co-parenting as a job. The goal is to acknowledge that you and the other co-parent have been hired to carry out the same job. As such, it’s vital to remove negative patterns that would impede progress.
2. Engage in the individual work.
This is often a difficult area due to the immense work that can be required. An additional challenge to the individual work is that it can often feel like something you want to do with your partner. While your partner may not want to do it with you.
They may be ready to move forward and shift to a new dynamic. The new dynamic is the co-parenting relationship. For more reading on parenting, click here.
For some people, the individual work can include understanding your body’s reaction or the automatic thoughts that take place. For instance, you may notice that when you are communicating with the other parent, you feel agitated. The agitation can be connected to the past. As such, you can work on self-regulation to reduce unwanted feelings and show up effectively.
3. Focus on acceptance.
The term acceptance is a broad one. In the context of co-parenting, it means that you are actively working to understand that the way you show up as a parent may be different compared to the other parent.
For instance, one parent may support their child with wellness by going or a walk together or attending the local gym on the weekends. The other parent may focus on wellness by practicing mindfulness and writing in a journal.
Acceptance means that both parents acknowledge that the difference they see is not one that is to be used for the purpose of judgment or attack.
4. Get to know the different parenting styles.
More than likely you will have a different parenting style from your partner. This can be due to the differences in upbringing or even goals. I once worked with a set of parents where one parent had an entire system of chores and rewards at home. While the other preferred to wait until the kids were older.
The point of sharing this is not to highlight that one parent is right and the other is wrong. It is instead to bring attention to the different parenting styles. If you want to make co-parenting easier on you, then it is vital to hold space for the differences.
5. Align on values.
Values influence behavior and have ample to do with the trajectory of a person’s life. I assume that you are reading this as a parent because you truly care about your child. I also assume that you have experience in putting your needs to the side in order to support your child. To be clear let me give you an example.
A parent may put their need to skip the latest movie just released because their child cannot stop talking about it. This very parent will take their child to the theater and sit there thinking just how terrible the movie is and how overpriced the popcorn is. They do this with a somewhat positive attitude because sitting next to them is a very happy child.
You can make co-parenting easier by sharing 2 to 3 values that you want to instill in your child with the other co-parent. You listen to the 2 or 3 they share as well. Once you know the values, both will actively engage in actions that connect to the values.
The basic goal is that the values are healthy and positive and lead to success.
6. Work with a counselor.
Working with a counselor can pave the way to success. You are able to come together and begin the necessary work of aligning in the area of co-parenting. Click here to get to know the counselors at Santos Counseling PLLC. Typical topics that are covered when working with a counselor include:
- Better conflict skills.
- A clear understanding of parenting styles.