8 tips for keeping a well-balanced co-parenting relationship.

Even though the child lies at the heart of the relationship that you are developing with the co-parent, it is important to keep in mind that it is in everyone’s best interest to learn how to maintain a well-balanced relationship with the other person.

You cannot establish a family dynamic overnight, it is a process that takes time and a lot of learning. Therefore, it is very important to have the ability to communicate in an objective, constructive and sensible way in order to reach agreements, establish common goals and limits, and from time to time, negotiate around each other’s’ point of view.

Hence, we propose a list of 8 useful tips that will help in keeping a well-balanced relationship with your child’s co-parent.

1. Try to be flexible.

When you are flexible, you are leaving the door open to agreements, debate, commitments… At the end of the day, this is what you are looking for, the so-called “communication”. So, you can already imagine why being flexible can be a good thing for everyone.

Sometimes plans can change at the last minute, it may also happen that someone forgot to do or say something that was important at the time. This can happen to anyone. Remember that getting upset or remaining fixed in your position may result in the co-parent being less understanding in the future when you have to make a last-minute change of plans.

It is important to understand that being flexible is a skill, and as such, it is something that can be developed through practice. It is certainly a skill that you will have to develop as your child grows since his/her needs and circumstances will change over the years, at which point it is always best to be willing to adapt.

2. Everything begins with empathy.

Raising a child is not an easy task and requires an enormous amount of energy. If you add to this a professional life, the daily activities, everyday errands, commuting, and so many other things that make up your day-to-day life, it is possible that the fatigue will lead you to overlook one detail or make a mistake.

So, before making any judgments or complain, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Start from the premise that the other person is part of your team, which is why conflict resolution should be about finding solutions and not about holding someone accountable. 

Since the love for your child is the priority, you should not forget to have an ally, someone you can count on, and from time to time, share your worries, your fatigue and the delegation of tasks, even if this means changing whatever plans you had in mind from the beginning.

3. Plan and schedule in cooperation with the co-parent.

Whether you’ re talking about the daily dynamic or an occasional activity, it is important to anticipate how each of the co-parents will be involved. Is it better to attend a school event together? Is it preferable for each co-parent to take on certain activities with the child individually? It all depends on the relationship you have pre-established with your co-parent. 

At the end of the day, the important thing is to involve the co-parent in the child’s life in the healthiest way possible, always respecting the agreements imposed on the relationship from the beginning. Do not hesitate to share responsibilities such as doctor appointments, parent/teacher meetings, extracurricular activities, etc.

Making a shared schedule is always a challenge, so the best option is to plan ahead, keeping in mind the activities and availability of the parents.

4. Keep an open communication channel.

You can never overstate this, the child and his or her well-being is the focal point between you and the co-parent, and the child will certainly benefit from a clear communication between the parties. If the co-parent is aware of what is going on in the child’s life, he or she will also be able to support or reinforce certain behaviors (such as playing a sport, a new hobby, a teenage crisis, etc.).

There are excellent tools for creating shared agendas on the Internet. If someone has to leave town because of work related reasons, if there is a problem, if there is a need to attend a school activity, the best thing to do is to have access to the other person’s agenda in real time in order to be able to make decisions in a more convenient way.

It is also a good idea to ask for duplicates on key issues such as school information. Nowadays most schools do this, all you have to do is ask for it.

5. Help your child feel connected to the other parent.

At home, depending on how comfortable you are with the idea, you can put pictures of the child with his or her parents, either in their bedroom or, if you prefer, in shared areas of the house. This way the child will not only feel a sense of attachment to both parents, but will also know that both parents are part of his or her life at all times.

It is also important to maintain a positive attitude towards the things your child tells you about the time he or she spends with the other parent. This will help him/her develop a sense of trust when communicating with both parents.

In the same way, it may be a good idea to encourage your child to send a message or make a call to the other parent when he or she is spending time with you. This will create a stronger relationship that will eventually pay off and make him or her understand that the bond between you two is not limited to the four walls of a house. It will also allow the co-parent to feel included in the upbringing of the child.

6. Be prepared to deal with some complex feelings.

It is possible, in some cases, to experience feelings of abandonment, jealousy, loneliness, or even disappointment when your child is sharing time with the co-parent or is telling you about the time they have spent together. Try to look at the positive side of the situation – that time without your child can allow you to rest, relax, invest time in personal activities, or even enjoy your social or romantic life.

Scheduling his or her absence in advance will help you in organising personal enrichment activities such as exercising, visiting friends or family, etc.

If you still find it difficult to manage your feelings, agree on a certain amount of contact with the co-parent from the beginning. Whether it’s a short phone call before bedtime, a text message, a picture about that day’s activities, or anything that can help you be calmer. However, don’t forget to respect the limits of the child’s time with the co-parent. 

Modern cell phones feature a wide range of applications that make it all easier and just take a couple of minutes.

7. Understand that there are different parenting styles.

While there may be agreements and a common ground about the goals that both parents have set for themselves to ensure the child’s well-being, sometimes there will be situations with which you may not fully agree, but which are likely to provide positive experiences for your child.

The first thing is to recognize whether these are differences in style or whether they are really essential requirements for safeguarding the child’s integrity. For example, if you are a vegetarian and the co-parent does not share the same point of view, we are talking about a difference in style. Let the child experiment with the situations, discuss them with the co-parent and, why not, establish spaces in which the two situations can converge. 

As long as the child’s health and safety are not compromised, there are certain things you should let happen in a natural way, rather than engaging in a debate or adding unnecessary stress to yourself.

8. Try your best to conciliate by keeping a positive attitude.

No one is exempt from having differences in any type of relationship, and this is even truer when the issue at hand is raising a child. Whenever possible, you should try to communicate in the same way that you want to be treated. It is not uncommon to make statements that contain negative wording that can make the co-parent feel attacked, judged or criticized. 

Thus, a basic aspect of communication is allowing the other person to collectively seek alternatives rather than making him or her feel cornered and inappropriate. Formulations such as “I don’t like that…” can be formulated in a positive way, for example: “I would prefer that…” or ” have you considered the option of…”. 

When we change the word “confront” to “build”, we change the way we face the situations that arise every day and we establish a dynamic in which harmony is at the centre of the discussion.