Co-parent is a tough gig. There I said it!
You split from your partner for a reason, maybe you fell out of love, maybe you realised how different you were or you wanted different things out of life and love. Perhaps you realise your love for each other wasn't healthy. Whatever the reason you are jointly responsible for one or more human beings.
If we pause for a moment though because what you are doing is amazing, neither of you are shirking your responsibilities, you both recognise your children need you both to be in their lives supporting them jointly. Now that is a cool thing to say. During tough times hold on to this reason why!
I've been co-parenting longer than I was married, I have two teenage children and some days are a real struggle. On the whole, we have similar values and principles but we are both in different places on a lot of things and it is hard to constantly emotional regulate for the benefit of all of us in this co-parenting unit. Keeping front of mind that we are a family unit, albeit with separate houses and for the most part separate lives, it is easier to join forces and parent together. I will always be grateful that my children still have both parents actively supporting them and that I get the time I need to recharge when I need it.
Along the way, I've learnt a few things about co-parenting, I am sure these tips will appeal to parents who are still together too, take a look!
Know your triggers
Knowing your triggers is even more important with an ex you are co-parenting with. There is a reason you no longer together. What triggered you before will still be present in your relationship after you've split and may have intensified. Acknowledging this is present and preempting your response will help you to manage your emotions and self-regulate.
It is important to stay calm and rationale so you can respond appropriately. Any flair up may damage the relationship you've worked hard to maintain. If you need to remove yourself temporarily, explain you can't talk about that right now and you need to excuse yourself.
Look for the positive intent
It can be a hard thing to master but looking for the positive intention in any given situation no matter how difficult and challenging will help you to gain a better understanding of the reasons behind the actions of your ex when co-parenting together. Whilst you might still not agree with their action by looking for the positive intention you can seek to understand their choices and avoid the blame game.
Stay out of the blame zone
It can be so easy to blame one another, especially when things aren't going well and you are facing challenges but this can spiral out of control. As much as you possibly can avoid the blame game and instead seek to support each other when times are tough.
Listen with an open mind
It's common to believe we have all the answers, we know what to do for the best and we should be the ones making all the choices. When each parent feels this way conflict arises. The truth is the answer lies somewhere in between, listening and keeping an open mind will help you to find the best solution to any challenge and keep the children's best interests at the heart of this.
I know firsthand that co-parenting is hard but I know I wouldn't like the alternative. Co-parenting gives you a certain amount of freedom to top up your energy levels, pursue things that bring you joy and have a separate identity all for yourself. This means you have greater balance in your life and can be a better parent.
To all the co-parents and single parents out there, in fact, any parent! I raise a glass to you, you are doing an amazing job. I salute you!
If you are finding co-parenting or any aspect of your relationship difficult, who could blame you, it is tough! Don't do it alone, seeking help and support is a sign of strength, get in touch today for a chat about Healthy Relationship Coaching can help.
I know how challenging relationships can be and how exhausting it is when things don't feel right. It is emotionally draining and you can feel so alone. Don't suffer, if you need support make the first step, and start today, with a no-obligation chat. I'm sure you feel better once you say things out loud.