Happily married Texas couples don’t agree about every matter regarding their children. So, there’s no reason to expect that co-parenting with your former spouse will be a cakewalk.
The trick is – despite any bitter or angry feelings you may still have for your ex – to put those emotions aside and focus on what’s best for your children when parenting disputes arise.
Two ways to problem-solve with your co-parent
Successful co-parenting requires patience, open communication and empathy. That may sound like a tall order for some. Depending on the space you and your ex are in, here are two problem-solving methods to consider:
- Strategic: This model only focuses on the issues at hand, leaving emotion out of the equation. You and your co-parent identify the problem and work to negotiate a solution objectively.
- Social-psychological: This method addresses how deeper emotional issues and attitudes cause or contribute to co-parenting conflicts. Talking to your ex about feelings may be difficult unless both of you focus on your kids’ needs and speak to each other in a nonconfrontational manner.
It’s important to note that many ex-spouses cannot achieve the latter form of problem-solving but maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship through the strategic model.
Tips for healthy problem-solving
You can achieve much of the heavy lifting by having a lawyer draft a comprehensive parenting plan. In many cases, you can also easily solve or avoid conflicts through adopting a cooperative mindset and work together by:
- Keeping an open dialogue
- Adopting and enforcing consistent rules in both households
- Speaking positively about the other parent in front of your kids
- Understanding that co-parenting is a challenge for both of you
- Agreeing to behavioral boundaries and guidelines
- Keeping the other parent updated when changes, big or small, occur
- Recognizing that you and your ex each have strengths as a parent
Keep your eye on the prize
Managing co-parenting disagreements positively and constructively not only reduces conflict between you and the other parent but helps your children thrive. Knowing that they are loved when seeing their divorced parents work together can teach them critical life skills as they get closer to adulthood.
Next month, we’ll look at some of the obstacles to problem-solving and how to avoid them.