Mocha Dad and Moms: Managing a Successful Co-Parenting Relationship

Ways to Manage a Successful Co-Parenting Relationship

JEN HEADSHOTAs most people who’ve been through a divorce with children will tell you, the things you loathed about your spouse will be magnified once you are forced to co-parent with him/her. The reasons that your marriage didn’t work will be more defined and heightened, and the smallest things can be grounds for all out war.

Here are a few of the techniques that use to manage a successful co-parenting relationship with my ex:

  1. Follow the rules and consequences of the primary house. In most situations, children are with the primary parent 80% of the time. They get confused when there are two different sets of rules. Children need to know that BOTH parents are on the same page. Otherwise, they will take advantage of the loopholes. It doesn’t make them bad kids; it makes them human.
  2. Don’t text with your ex. Texting is too intimate for two people who no longer have an intimate relationship. Use e-mail and talk on the phone only when necessary. Even if you have a great relationship with your ex, there is a possibility that things could turn ugly. That’s why it’s important to keep all communication as formal as possible.
  3. Get involved with school and extra curricular activities. Get on e-mail lists, print out the calendars, and know what is going on in your children’s day-to-day lives. Don’t rely on your ex to do it for you; it’s not their job.
  4. Don’t be sneaky. Going behind your ex’s back to do something for your child sets a horrible example. If you have disregard for your ex and show that to your children, you are giving them permission to do the same thing. These consequences may not be seen when they are 6 or 7, but wait until they are 16 or 17. Those lessons can’t be undone.
  5. Never make your children choose. It’s beyond awful to make them choose between the two of you. If your ex does this, be the bigger person and don’t. Your children will thank you for it when they are older.

I hope that some of these points that I’ve outlined are things that you are already doing, or will think about doing in the future. Children deserve to have the best childhood possible, and that includes two parents who work with each other, not against each other. Visit my blog for my complete listing of Ways to Manage a Successful Co-Parenting Relationship.

Jennifer Evers the writer of a lifestyle blog, “Me, Myself and Jen.” She is a social media specialist, providing social media marketing, training, and event promotion through her consulting business, MM& J Consulting.  She adores traveling herself as well as planning trips for others. Jennifer lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her family.

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Kids Suffer When Both Parents Aren’t Aligned

mochadad at dad20My parents divorced when I was about 4-years old and I didn’t see my father for several years. Although it wasn’t the best situation for our family, we managed to live a fairly happy life. Then one day, when I was 11-years old, I heard a knock on the door. I opened it to see my father.

“Hello, Frederick,” he said. “How are you doing?’ I stood there with a puzzled look on my face because I couldn’t believe that he had returned after being away for so long. My mom rushed to the door and told me to go to my room. I walked away, but I could hear her asking him why he was here. As a little boy who missed his dad, I didn’t care. I was just glad that he was finally back in our lives.

Unfortunately, that joy turned to disappointment. My father made promises to see us and take us places that he never kept. He didn’t call on birthdays and he seemed to disappear on holidays.

My mother tried not to say bad things about my father because she knew I still loved him, but she hated to see how his irresponsible behavior was affecting me. My mom finally confronted him and he agreed to do better. And he did. However, it only lasted for a few years and then he was gone again.

As an adult, I can look back on my childhood years and see how difficult divorce can be on everyone involved. Even today, I watch as many of my divorced relatives and friends struggle with co-parenting. The advice that I give to my divorced friends is, “Regardless of your relationship with your ex, always care for your children. Their well-being is more important than anything else. Don’t bad-mouth your ex because they are still your child’s parent. Your kids need to see that both of you have their best interests in mind.” I preface this statement by admitting that I’m not divorced and I cannot fully understand their struggles, but I grew up in a broken family and I can still recall the pain I felt as a child in that situation. Divorce ends a marriage, but it doesn’t end your responsibility to your children.

Stay Strong,

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Question: Do you have any advice to share on co-parenting or dealing with divorce.

Mocha Dad and Moms is a regular column where I discuss parenting topics with moms. If you’d like to be one of the featured moms, send me a message with your idea to fjgoodall@mochadad.com.

About the author
Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at fjgoodall@mochadad.com or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mochadad
  1. My ex and I have a fantastic co-parenting relationship, indeed, we’re better at co-parenting in different households than we ever were together. Part of that is that our daughter is always at the centre of decisions we make – things like not making kids choose, and not saying rotten things about each other just flow from that. We are fortunate to get along quite well (again, better than we EVER did when we were together), and we co-host her birthday parties and other significant events. I trust that my daughter is safe and well-cared-for when she is with her dad, and he feels the same about her time with me – we’re lucky that way. It’s got to be a cooperative process in which grown-up egos are checked at the door. You can’t need to score points off one another, or it won’t work.

    Our biggies:
    – no policy changes or huge decisions without a discussion (for us, that included things like ear piercing and the gift of a cell phone); like you, we follow the rules of the primary house (they were created when we were together, so it’s pretty easy – we just discuss the evolution of them as our DD gets older)
    – concerns are discussed on the phone or in person – not by text or email, and not through third parties (especially the kid!)
    – we NEVER speak disrespectfully of the other parent (or their other family members, or partners) – there’s no need to, because if there is a grown-up issue/concern, it’s discussed.
    – as much as possible, we spend time together – extended family, partners, whoever wants to come; because we are still a family, even though we’re not a family who lives together. My ex and I have no desire to reconcile, and our daughter knows that (though, truthfully, she struggles with that like every kid; maybe more since we do spend a fair amount of time doing family-ish things together); but it’s important for us to reinforce that her family is still her family, even though it looks a bit different.
    – be FLEXIBLE. I haven’t had a christmas eve, christmas morning, or boxing day with my daughter since her dad and I split up — he’s a chef, and the only days he can be guaranteed to be off over the christmas holidays are the 25th and (if we’re lucky) the 26th. So, Christmas is spent with her dad. There’s no drama about that – because, again, it’s about her, and making sure she gets to spend as much time as possible with her dad… I get to spend Christmas volunteering and wrapping last-minute gifts, ready for Christmas redux when she comes home. :) We have a similarly “whatever works” schedule in the summer.

    Coparenting can be really positive and rewarding, if all the grown-ups are willing to remember that the whole point of the coparenting relationship is to provide an atmosphere of love, stability, respect and cooperation in which children can thrive. Tough to do if you can’t get buy-in from one or more of the adults, but beautiful when you manage it!

  2. - My mother was the queen of good co-parenting. Included my father in decisions, keep him in the loop for birthdays, never spoke ill of him.
    – My father was the evil king. He did remember anything, talked smack about my mother, and made us feel as though we needed to choose between them a lot.
    – These days were all adults and do what is best for our own families, but I remember those experiences. It messed up what I thought a set of parents should be and affected my marriage in the beginning.
    – So it’s good for these set of suggestions in the article and by Mollysmum to be out there for people to look over and implement into their lives. Trying is better than not, and I had one the tried and one that definitely did not.

    Jason
    The Cheeky Daddy

  3. That’s really sad about your dad, it really is. Kudos to your mom for not speaking ill about him in front of you and for encouraging your dad…to try and be better. I’m sorry he wasn’t. Dads are an important part of our lives. It always amazes me when I meet men who are products of divorced parents but who wind up being great dads themselves. It means the cycle can be broken!