Co-parenting after a divorce or after the end of a relationship can be challenging. The problems that led to the end of a romantic relationship can carry over into the co-parenting relationship. Feelings of ill will, hurt, and general animosity can be tough to shake. There can also be disagreements over parenting styles, too. The fact is that having and maintaining a positive co-parenting relationship can feel like an uphill battle. Having tools on hand to help you resolve co-parenting disputes when they arise can be a big help.
Strategies for Resolving Co-Parenting Disputes
Your north star, your rock in the storm that can be co-parenting, should always be the best interests of the child. It may seem obvious, but it is worth repeating to yourself when times get rough. When disputes arise, it does not matter who started what, put the needs of your child first. It can be easy to get personally offended and emotional in the midst of parenting disputes. Remember that after all is said and done, it is not about you.
This leads into another strategy for handling co-parenting disputes and that is to keep children out of the dispute. You and your co-parent may struggle with your relationship, but children are also impacted by co-parenting arrangements. Remember that your child is impacted by your co-parenting relationship. They can easily absorb the emotions surrounding these conflicts and feel stuck in the middle. To try and avoid collateral damage to your child in these co-parenting conflicts, make the effort to do things like avoid putting down or speaking negatively about the other parent when the child is around. Don’t bring your child into the dispute and respect that your child has a relationship with the other parent and it is in everyone’s best interests, particularly the child’s, that that relationship remain a positive one.
Effective communication strategies are also critical in preventing co-parenting disputes as well as resolving them should they arise. This may require some trial and error to find out what works for your particular relationship, but there are some basic, positive communication tenants you should try to follow. For instance, listen to what the other parent is trying to say. Try to empathize with what they are feeling and see things from their perspective. Refrain from being impulsive and take a pause if things get too heated to avoid saying something you will regret later.
When disputes do arise and things seem to be escalating, particularly when there are potential legal implications coming into play, you and your co-parent may want to consider working with a mediator as opposed to taking the matter right to court. This can be a particularly solid option when you are developing a parenting plan or seeking modification of a parenting plan. The mediator is a neutral third party whose job it is to facilitate communication and compromise between you and your co-parent as you work towards a mutually agreeable resolution to your dispute.