Finding yourself turning from a parent into a co-parent is rarely a fun feeling. There is now a dynamic of two separate people with different lives trying to raise a child, rather than a unit working together. There’s a lot to think about when co-parenting. Take a look at our guide to find out the basics.
Keep things civil in front of your child
An ugly separation of your parents can be scarring for a child, so it’s important not to use your time alone with them to score parents points. No matter how you feel about them, as long as you don’t think you or your child is in danger in their presence, keep it civil. No badmouthing or complaining in front of them. You’re only sending an underage mouthpiece to the home of your enemy every weekend, and they will relay what you’re saying.
At best, you’ll have a disgruntled co-parent. At best. At worst you’ll have a dangerous co-parent or a co-parent who is using what you say as part of their argument for full custody. Instead, build a support system around you and gripe to people outside of the situation.
And at the very worst, your child’s sympathy for the co-parent will grow alongside their animosity to you. You’re not just damaging your relationship with your co-parent, but your child too.
Be careful about how you split the money
Children are expensive, so it’s important that everyone pays their way. Everyone in this equation should have the best interests of the child or children in mind, and therefore should contribute equally to their wellbeing, whether it’s gear for clubs or tuition for university.
But that’s a lot of sliding scales and spinning plates to calculate. And where is the line in what is a parent’s responsibility and what is a co-parent. Should the co-parent contribute to the utilities even if they’re not in the house? Their children are, after all. If you need some help calculating maintenance payments, use this platform to make things easier.
However, asking for money is never fun. You might need to let your lawyer handle the communications if the relationship with your co-parent is less than civil.
Splitting your time is equally as important
Splitting your time with a co-parent takes communication, which isn’t easy in this situation. Not only do you have the two parents requesting time with the children, but grandparents and other extended family, plus friends and school events means you’re keeping a very organized diary for your children.
And that’s exactly what you need: an online calendar. Okay, so handing that out to the school isn’t the best idea but shared between you and your co-parent and maybe even the grandparents, means you can request and grant time with your child with minimal conversation.
Speaking of communication, it’s an important aspect, but a tightrope to walk. If you have or want to create a good relationship with your co-parent, communication is very much at the forefront of making that happen. But the reality of the situation is that you split for a reason, and there might still be some hard feelings there, meaning that communication should be kept to a minimum.
Boundaries are a big part of that. No matter the communication level, some things are simply off-limits and not for either of you to comment on. An obvious example is relationships. You might not approve of their new partner, but that’s none of your business. And vice versa. They have no right to speak about your relationships either.
You might have to establish boundaries early. If you are not interested in anything more than a civil relationship, you will have to put your foot down about attempts to “chat” about anything that doesn’t concern your children.