In an ideal world this would be pragmatic, however we’re dealing with reality, emotions and emotions are energy in motion. If we can remember this one notion, “emotions are energy in motion,” then you’re setting yourself up for success. Divorce/Separations are messy and hurtful, throw in the mix kids, and you’ve got fireworks. This is when some parents start to use their own children as leverage instead of doing what’s in the best interest of their child.

One of the things you’ve got to remember is when you’re dealing with your ex spouse who’s angry, has pent up hostility and bitter, this is actually a good thing! Yes, you read that correctly, this emotion has a root, that root is love. Hear me out, when a person is angry to a point of hatred the nucleus is love. They feel betrayed, the promise, vow, it’s broken and now they’re hurting, they channel their emotion through anger.

It’s up to you to figure out how to penetrate, break through to the other parent, revive not necessarily the love but to bring back to surface, understanding and acceptance that was once the foundation of the relationship. Dealing with an ex can be difficult especially if marital vows were broken but you’ve got to remember, everything you do is setting precedents for your children.

Your kids see and hear everything, don’t think for one second that they didn’t understand your backhanded comment you just made about your ex, or have your ex’s name programmed as the “Monster” or whatever other colorful word used in reference regarding your ex. Children not only hear and see it but they feel the animosity, stop, they don’t need adult issues thrown on them. You’re indirectly stealing their childhood because you’re too absorbed in your own reality that you’ve forget that you’re impacting and shaping another person.

Most importantly don’t speak negatively about your ex in front of your kids. Your child is one half of your ex, children view themselves as an extension of the other parent. Once you’ve spoken ill regarding mom or dad, your child will feel that you have the same emotion towards them. This is when you will slowly lose your child trust and resentment will start to build.

Your greatest accomplishment in life is your child, don’t take their emotions, understanding and patience for granted. Never use your children as the messenger, if you need to
say anything to your ex, do so directly without the children present.

Try to sit down with your ex and discuss the kids rationally. Leave the past where it belongs, in the past. If you find yourself getting emotional step away from the conversation. Coparenting is truly a business transaction, don’t take anything personal, it’s business. Don’t walk into a discussion with “expectations” because you were once in a relationship or the mentality that they “owe” you. Coparenting is a new relationship, the only expectation should be that you are both putting your child’s needs ahead of your own.

When discussing the children do not make demands or requests instead, ask. Have a discussion with the other parent so they may get on board regarding an issue, explain why you’re taking a particular stances, discuss it rationally. If they don’t see eye to eye try to find a middle ground, be flexible, choose your battles wisely. Listen to your ex and their reasoning, most of all keep your cool. Don’t flip out on your ex by reminding them that during the marriage they were a “horrible listener” as well, no negative talk! If the talks are getting heated excuse yourself, ask that this conversation gets shifted via email. Emails are great because you can read the mail and not respond immediately, when you do respond (in a timely manner) you
can be calm and emotionless. Show respect it can go a long way, embody what you’d like your children to emulate, manners are often neglected between coparents, even though they should be the foundation for coparenting.

Coparenting is successful when both parents allow the child to feel secure with themselves and to be able to express love to both parents without guilt. It’s important to show your child that even though your relationship didn’t work out, you’re still a team when it gets to parenting. That you two have each other’s back, talk to one another and problem solve. You’ll be teaching your child what is acceptable as the norm in their own relationships they form growing up, you’re setting up the pattern that they will carry on in the future.

It’s important to implement similar house rules for both homes so there aren’t any discrepancies, children need to know what to expect and what’s expected of them. Leaving them with anticipation will set in the fear of the unknown. Consistency and security is the key for children to thrive. One thing that’s helpful is to create a monthly calendar, write in daily schedules including when they will be seeing the other parent. This way you’ll be elevating anticipation and helping with the transition. Always meet the other parent on time and be

When you’re married it’s easy to remind your spouse about plays, soccer games, birthday parties, or school progress, show that same consideration now as exs. Being respectful includes letting your ex know about school events, being flexible about your schedule when possible and taking his or her opinion seriously.

You’re no longer together but your both parents that share children, just because the relationship didn’t work out it doesn’t mean that their relationship with the kids should fail or be sabotaged. Let me be clear, coparenting can be done with two rational adults. The first few years will be difficult to get through but once the dust settles and a mutual understanding has been established, the parenting relationship will flourish. However this will only work when both parents have the mindset of putting the child first. I’m not discussing a person who has narcissistic tendencies, this is a behavioral issue that needs to be dealt with on a professional level. When dealing with a narcissist, sadly your mind frame needs to be what
you can do for your child, parallel parenting comes into play.

As parents we are constantly making decisions, you’ll be making these decisions with your ex, weather you can stand one another or not, that’s not the point. Compromising, communicating and cooperating will make life easier for everyone. If the general goal is consistency and teamwork, then raising your children happy and healthy will fall into place.

Good luck with your journey, just remember coparenting will go well beyond 18 years, just because your children have gone off to college communication doesn’t stop. Life milestones will occur and you’ll be sharing each of them with your ex, graduation, career promotions, marriage and grandchildren, just to name a few. Form and build your relationship now, you’re in this for the long haul.

~Kathy Copcutt
I’m a single mom to a precious son and live in LA. I never expected to be the CoParenting guru but here I am. It’s my goal to spread the word, create a movement to help parents place their own feelings aside and coparent for the sake of their children. In the end we have to understand that everything that’s done is for the sake of the children.