Going from an unsatisfying romantic relationship to a co-parenting relationship is a difficult transition. It is common for parents to struggle with everything from how they split their schedule to disciplinary standards for their children.
While it may be natural for divorcing or separating parents to fight, their disagreements can be very hard on the children and the family. Children who overhear their parents arguing may take their unkind words about each other to heart or might believe that they are the cause of the conflict.
How can you and your co-parent reduce how much the two of you fight as you adjust to sharing custody?
1. Communicate in writing
For at least the first year or so after you initially separate, the two of you may want to use a co-parenting app. There are multiple benefits to communicating in one central location. Your schedule and all agreements that you have made about adjusting it will be in one place and easy to reference. You will have a thorough record of all of your conversations.
When you have to communicate in an app knowing that there will be a record might prevent either of you from getting personal in your messages. Apps can help parents transitioning to a new stage in their relationship keep things civil.
2. Don’t bring up the past
With rare exceptions of families that have a history of chemical dependence or child abuse, referencing issues from during your marriage while attempting to co-parent will likely only cause problems. It is generally a better option for you to focus on the future.
You should especially avoid bringing up anything involving the two of you and not the children. Keep them and your future support for them the focal point of your communication.
3. Have a plan for when you disagree
Even if both of you want to keep things calm and amicable, you never know when a conversation might trigger a very intense emotional response in either of you. You need to have a conflict resolution system already in place. Perhaps you have a family member or neighbor who can moderate your discussions. On the other hand, you might need to talk with a co-parenting therapist if the two of you find yourselves at an impasse regarding the care of your children.
Having a practical approach to your co-parenting relationship will help the two of you keep things positive regardless of what challenges may arise later as you share custody.