Getting through your divorce can be tough, but life can still throw difficulties at you even after your marriage dissolution is finalized. For those with kids, this often comes in the context of custody, visitation, and co-parenting disputes.
While these disagreements can be extremely stressful and frustrating, they can also have significant ramifications for your child. Your child may grow distant from you or the other parent, they may experience poor school performance and behavioral issues, and it may even impact how they view loving and trusting relationships as they move into adulthood.
How can you protect your child?
If you want to avoid those negative impacts on your child, then you have to find a way to resolve your co-parenting issues. One way is to know what behaviors constitute bad co-parenting so that you can sidestep them or appropriately address them with the other parent. Here are some of the most common mistakes made during co-parenting:
- Engaging in verbal altercations with the other parent while in the child’s presence
- Refusing to cooperate and coordinate with the other parent on important issues related to your child, such as their education, discipline, medical treatment, and even religious upbringing
- Talking poorly about the other parent to the child
- Disrupting a visitation schedule or otherwise withholding parenting time
- Engaging in parental alienation, where the child is manipulated to dislike and distrust the other parent
- Withholding important information about the child from the other parent
There may be other behaviors that foster a poor co-parenting relationship, and both sides can be guilty of eroding that relationship. To protect your child, then, you’ll have to be proactive in addressing any issues that might exist.
Ways to improve your co-parenting relationship
Fortunately, there are steps that you can start taking now to protect your child and your co-parenting relationship. These include:
- Modifying communication so that you can find an effective way to talk to the other parent while reducing conflict. This might include using email or text messages, or you might find certain apps that are helpful.
- Remaining focused on what’s best for your child and doing your best to revert wayward conversations back toward your child’s interests.
- Presenting parenting decisions in a united front so that your child views you and the other parent as being consistent and on the same team.
- Minimizing emotional responses when the other parent upsets you in some fashion. It might be helpful to find support from family members and friends when you find yourself needing an outlet.
- Recognizing the need to be flexible, as you and the child’s other parent will need to be prepared to modify positions and expectations to ensure that consensus can be found and your child’s best interests can be supported.
- Doing your best to support a relationship between your child and the other parent.
Do you have other ideas for how to build an effective co-parenting relationship? If so, let us know in the comments below.
When all else fails, consider legal action
If you feel like you’ve tried your best to modify your co-parenting relationship to protect your child but nothing seems to work, then you might be in a position to consider a custody modification. One of these modifications will only be granted if you can show a substantial change in circumstances, though, so you’ll want to be able to articulate how the existing custody arrangement is detrimental to your child’s best interests.