Our list of co-parenting boundaries provides you with a 7-point list to help draw clear boundaries, defining and refining your co-parenting relationship such that both co-parents can have clear expectations. While co-parenting can be and often is challenging, it gets smoother and easier when you and your ex have a set of clear guidelines to follow. The following are points 3 and 4 of our 7-point list of co-parenting boundaries to set in place in order to co-parent effectively and to ensure healthy, happy children, and stress-free (or at least stress-light) co-parenting. Points 1 and 2 are here.
List of Co-Parenting Boundaries: Points 3 & 4
3: Accept that You Each Have to Co-Parent Your Children
One way or another you and your ex will have to co-parent your children until they turn eighteen, at least. You can do it the hard way, or the easier way, but either way you do have to do it. Here acceptance is key, so much that it’s difficult to follow the other items in this list of co-parenting boundaries if you have not prepared your heart and mind for a co-parenting relationship.
No matter how toxic your relationship may have been before you split up, and no matter how badly you want the other person to disappear from your life, the simple fact is that you have a child together, and the child deserves to be brought up by the both of you. Many divorced parents find it hard to accept this reality, but the fact remains that they have to keep in touch, at least until their child reaches adulthood.
The best way to deal with this is to accept that your child needs you to co-parent and that your child needs their other parent to co-parent and that your child needs you to both co-parent cooperatively. So finding ways to suppress your negative feelings towards your ex so that your children can continue to enjoy being loved by both parents is crucial.
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If you are in a position where you can’t stand seeing each other in person you can utilize other forms of communication, like email, until the emotions settle down and you feel comfortable being around each other in person (or at least until you can be civil with each other in person). If push comes to shove (hey, not literally!), seeking the assistance of a co-parent counselor is a good idea. Either way, again, keep in mind that you are doing it so that your child continues to have a loving relationship with each parent.
4: Learn to See and Understand the “Other Side”
It’s common for single fathers to think that mom just wants to get as much money as possible in the name of child support, and that she doesn’t care at all about his relationship with their child. But while it may seem like money is all the mother cares about, often it is just that women have been almost brainwashed by the conventional “wisdom” that you are going to screw her out of child support. This can cause her to focus so much on the finances of child support that she can’t really focus on the fact that your child needs quality time with each of you, and that children need to spend time with their father.
Meanwhile, while you are push to have more time with your children, to your co-parent it may look like a ploy to reduce the amount of child support that you have to pay. As untrue and unfair to you as this view may be, it is likely that she genuinely believes this – it is her ‘reality’ – and it may be hard to convince her otherwise. Once you understand this, then you can look to creatively find a win-win solution.
For example, you can offer to pay the child support she is asking for as long as she allows you more time with the child. Your immediate reaction to this suggestion may be “But I shouldn’t have to pay to see my own children!” and you would be right, except that it will still cost you less than going to court (where you may well lose), and you can always reduce the amount of child support back to what the child support formula dictates at some future date, meanwhile you will still be ahead, not just financially but in terms having more time with your children!
Co-parenting relationships often have a delicate balance, especially in the beginning, but like any other exercise, as you continue to flex your co-parenting muscles it will get easier. That’s why it’s good to set clear, agreed-to co-parenting boundaries. Our list of co-parenting boundaries allows you to co-parent with the best interest of your child at heart, and it can be a great starting point for you and your ex!
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