Tips for Co-Parenting

Tips For Co-Parenting

Due to life doing what life does best, my best-laid plans didn't really pan out and I have ended up co-parenting two out of my three children. It hasn't always been smooth sailing, and I've struggled through my fair share of stressful situations when it comes to raising my children alongside my ex, but there are ways to make this awkward and sometimes painful experience a little less hard on everybody involved.

You Don't Have to Be Friends

The best thing I realised was, even if you want to be and think it would help, you do not have to be friends in order to raise your children together. Yes, in an ideal world everybody would get along perfectly and the blended families would come together for Christmas and birthdays, maybe even go on joint holidays each year, but that rarely ever happens. Break-ups can be messy, hearts can be broken, and it isn't always feasible to remain friends after everything you have been through.

You don't have to be friends, but it helps to be civil with each other, for the sake of your kids. Nobody is expecting you to hang out together, or have regular catch-ups on the phone, but just being able to be in the same room together and to talk amicably, does wonders for your children and a smooth transition, trust me.

Mediation Can Work

If things are very tough, and one or both of you are finding it difficult to be around each other, it can help to have professional help in the form of counseling or mediation. I have been through mediation, prior to a court case, and it didn't work for me, but does have brilliant success rates. Having a neutral space and somebody to help with discussions can be useful if communication has completely broken down between you. It is also generally a stipulation prior to being able to go to court, if things have gone down that route, so definitely worth a shot.

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Appoint a Neutral Liaison

If you aren't quite at the stage of needing mediation from a professional company, or you are both needing to save money, agreeing on a neutral person to act as a liaison officer between the two of you can help and save a lot of arguments if things can become heated when you are in the same space. It could be a mutual friend, or an acquaintance of you both, or a friend of a friend who doesn't really know either of you very well. They can act as a go-between when direct communication is tricky, and they can help smooth things out when tensions run high, especially over certain areas of raising your child such as school holidays or when somebody starts a new relationship.

You Have to Compromise

One thing to remember is, just like when you were in a relationship together, you will need to learn to compromise on some things. It is never going to be possible to agree all the time. Sometimes it is inevitable that you will need to give in to allow the other person to have what they want, or at least some semblance of that, even if it means you may feel you are giving in. Perhaps you have a milestone birthday celebration in your family and you want to be able to all celebrate together as a family but it is meant to be their weekend? Or they would like to be able to take your child away with their new family on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday during term time when you would usually have them at home with you. Looking at the big picture and knowing when to compromise is a really important part of raising children together whilst apart.

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Remember What is Important

Finally, and most importantly, remember why you are both doing this, to do what is best for the child you jointly created. Yes, it may be really damn hard at times, but their well-being is what is most important for you both, and they will benefit from having two parents who are able to maturely navigate co-parenting for the years to come, no matter how hard you may find it personally at times.

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