Nowadays, many divorced parents agree on joint custody and decide to co-parent. It is often in the child’s best interest to maintain the relationship with both of their parents. However, emotions run high during and after a divorce, and they can easily turn hostile. So, what can parents do when co-parenting is just not working?
One answer could be to modify the custody or parenting agreement, but if the parents are committed to co-parenting, there are a few tips they can follow to make it a little easier.
Set rules for communication
Divorced parents who maintain constant communication are more likely to have an argument. However, communication is necessary when co-parenting to ensure consistency and stability for the child.
Establishing rules for communicating is helpful to decrease the chance of disputes. It may also be helpful to create rules that cater to each parent’s individual needs and concerns, including:
- How to communicate: One useful form of communication is through text. This often subtracts emotion from the exchange, while also providing a clear history of communication.
- When to communicate: It may be beneficial for parents to establish times they are available to speak with each other, as well as times when they are not, to help preserve healthy boundaries.
- What to communicate: All communication should revolve around the child. This is also a strategy to help decrease the chance of conflict.
It is just as important to create rules for boundaries as it is for communication. Simply because parents have joint custody does not mean they have to interact as much as they did during marriage. Developing rules for boundaries can greatly reduce the chance of a dispute.
These rules can involve anything from social media use, to interactions at events for the child.
Always put children first
In joint custody matters, co-parents often find themselves competing for their child’s affection. This could mean gifts or changing the rules to let their child do something the other parent would not allow. Generally, this only manages to put more stress on the child than bring any satisfaction to either parent.
One important rule to remember in co-parenting is to put the child’s best interests first, just like the original custody agreement does. It is safe to say that no matter their differences, both parents often want what is best for their child. That is one point of common ground that could also minimize the challenges of co-parenting.