For any parent, easing into a new co-parenting arrangement can be difficult. Adjusting to seeing your child(ren) less and coordinating with your co-parent across households can be challenging, and it can be hard not to feel overwhelmed.
The more effectively you can reduce conflict with your co-parent, the easier it will be for you to acclimate to co-parenting and help your child thrive. Today, we're exploring how you can reduce conflict with your co-parent to create a healthier, happier family dynamic.
Plan Out Your Timeshare Carefully
It's no secret that a lot of conflict in co-parenting arrangements tends to occur around timeshares. You and your co-parent probably both want to maximize the time you spend with your child, but it's not always easy to align schedules—especially if you both work full-time or have other obligations.
Here are some things you want to watch out for as you establish a timeshare:
- Make sure the child spends free time with both parents. Finding time when children and parents can focus on bonding instead of activities like school and work can be challenging. Both parents should get as many weekends as they can with the child. The last thing you want is for one parent to regularly get the child on weekends, making them the "fun" parent in the dynamic. Both parents should be the "fun" parent the child gets to relax with—even if that means spending more time figuring out the timeshare.
- Plan vacations as far in advance as you can. Vacations can disrupt parenting plans, especially if one parent wants to take the kid with them. You should try and include a clause in your parenting plan requiring that each parent give at least a month's notice before taking a vacation, especially if they want to involve the child.
- Think about how you want to approach holidays carefully. Many parents try and work out an arrangement where their child spends half of each holiday with both parents, but it can be awkward to split certain days (like Christmas) in half between co-parents. Instead, you may want to consider an arrangement where the child spends Christmas Eve with one parent, Christmas Day with the other, and then spends New Years or a day soon after with both parents (if they're on good terms).
The more effort you put into establishing an equitable timeshare protocol that works for both parents, the easier it will be to reduce tension in the co-parenting dynamic.
Redirect Arguments Back to Your Child's Well-Being
If you're not on good terms with your co-parent, you'll inevitably get into an argument at some point over your parenting styles or other issues that pop up (your child getting bad grades, spending time with certain friends, etc.).
Whenever you get into a dispute with your co-parent, try to avoid making the argument personal. Instead, try and redirect the conversation back to what matters: How you and your co-parent can help your child thrive and pursue their best interests.
If your co-parent refuses to stay away from personal attacks and focus on helping your child during arguments, it may be worth asking them to discuss the issue with you during a family therapy session. A counselor can act as a mediator, helping them communicate more effectively.
Redirecting conflicts toward how you can work together to help your child succeed can de-escalate tense situations and help you build a better foundation for your co-parenting relationship in the future.
Utilize the Same Boundaries
One of the major mistakes many co-parents make is having different boundaries for their child. You and your co-parent should work together to establish:
- Academic boundaries. How much time should your child devote to schoolwork? What kind of grades do you want to help them maintain? Will you provide other resources, like a tutor, to help them succeed?
- Behavioral boundaries. How much time can your child spend on social media or playing videogames? What happens if they act out and hurt one of their peers emotionally or physically? How will they conduct themselves around strangers?
- Disciplinary boundaries. Parents need to have boundaries, too. What kind of disciplinary actions are allowed? What disciplinary actions are prohibited?
You should incorporate these boundaries into your parenting plan so that they're legally binding, and each parent is obligated to abide by them.
Consistency plays a vital role in helping co-parents establish a healthy family dynamic, even if they're not always on the best terms.
Set Boundaries for Co-Parent Communication
You and your co-parent should set mutually binding boundaries for:
- How you communicate with each other. Set up a curfew for when you communicate with each other and make it clear that communication past the curfew should be reserved for emergencies only. Decide on dedicated tools, like text, for communication. Depending on your relationship, you may want to restrict the topics you discuss with one another.
- How you communicate with your child (especially when one parent doesn't have custody). Neither parent should harass the child with calls or texts while they're with their other parent. Set boundaries for how (and why) you communicate with your child when they're not with you, and vice versa.
Applying these tips to your co-parenting relationship can help you reduce conflict and have a healthier relationship with your child and co-parent.
At Alternative Divorce Solutions, we provide clients with high-quality child custody services. To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (949) 558-2624.