January 25, 2023
If you and your child’s other parent have recently decided to divorce, separate, or otherwise end your romantic relationship, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll parent most effectively moving forward. There are circumstances under which it is far healthier for a child to be raised solely by one of their parents. But if you and your child’s other parent are both fit and eager to remain active participants in your child’s development, cooperative coparenting is likely going to be advantageous for everyone involved.
Cooperative coparenting is a term used to describe a coparenting relationship that features low-conflict approaches and effective communication. You may be thinking “That’s easier said than done,” and you’re right about that. Cooperative coparenting isn’t an easy undertaking. However, if you set that model as your goal and you work hard to achieve it to the best of your ability, you’ll be benefitting your child – and yourself – overall, even if you and your coparent sometimes fall short.
As an experienced divorce lawyer – including those who practice at Felt Family Law & Mediation – can confirm, even the most loving and well-intentioned parents can struggle to interact with a coparent in healthy ways. Frustration, anger, and even jealousy are normal emotions that people process every day in the wake of romantic splits. If you’re feeling these things, you are not doing anything wrong. The key is to keep your focus on your child’s best interests when dealing with your coparent.
For example, say that you and your coparent have developed a habit of yelling at each other by the end of your telephonic exchanges concerning your coparenting arrangements. Consider switching your method of communication to a parent portal or email so that you can say what you need to say in a focused manner without the risk of a conversation escalating to a fight.
By identifying the times and triggers that make you want to escalate tensions with your child’s other parent, you can proactively work towards a much lower-conflict coparenting relationship.
Pick Your Battles
Because your child is your responsibility, everything that they do matters to you. From what they pack in their lunch to what they wear on their feet, you are invested in the minutiae of your child’s life experience in a way that you are not invested in anything else. As a result, it can be very, very easy to react to everything that your coparent does that is different, aggravating, or flat-out wrong.
The reality is, though, that your coparent is going to approach the process of parenting differently than you will. If you react to every single thing that bothers you, you and your coparent are always going to be at odds. And, as a result, your child will likely sense the tension between you both.
When possible and appropriate, pick your battles. Ask yourself whether fighting with your ex will do more good or harm when it comes to a particular matter. Fight the good fight but let the lesser stuff go when the harm outweighs the good of making that effort.