Co-Parenting Communication: Rebuild Trust With Your Ex
You and your ex may have had your differences in the past, but let’s face it—you’ll never really “get along” now or anytime soon. Despite your differences, the fact is, while you two no longer have a romantic relationship, you do have children together. Which means you both need to put your differences aside and step it up for the kids.
Is it possible to really dislike each other and effectively co-parent? Definitely. It’ll be a challenge, especially since you don’t trust each other right now, and you must co-parent while you’re rebuilding that trust. But if you both are willing to focus on the important things and let go of the things that don’t, then success is possible. After all, when it comes down to it, you both want the same thing: happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids.
Here are some tips for good co-parenting communication as you rebuild trust with one another:
- Honor All Agreements
Whatever you have agreed to in court or in any legal setting, honor that. You and your ex need to adhere to all agreements. The more success you have in this, the quicker you can rebuild trust with each other and more effectively co-parent. You both need to be able to count on each other doing what you say you will with regards to your children. And your kids need to count on their parents honoring their agreements, too.
- Develop a Business Relationship
Sometimes it’s hard to even look at your ex, let alone talk to them. Instead of thinking of that person as an ex, try to see it as more of a business relationship. There will be many emotions flung around from time to time, so keeping a level head is key here. It is hard to communicate effectively or build trust if you two are stuck on the past and what didn’t work. Keep things professional and don’t let anything your ex does bring you down.
- Focus on What You Can Control
In your ideal world, your ex will do XYZ. How likely is that to happen? Remember that you can’t control them. Trying to control your ex will only dampen your efforts to rebuild trust. They need to trust that you trust them. Remember that it goes both ways. So focus on what you can control, which is you. Your attitude, your tone, your actions. Be consistent, be prompt, set boundaries, and stick to them.
- Actively Listen to Your Ex
It’s hard to have full communication if you aren’t listening. So stop and let your ex talk. Even if you don’t agree, it’s important for them to feel like you are trying to listen. If either of you stop listening, then the other will simply stop talking, and then you won’t get anywhere. Try to have the big conversations in person so you can both make sure you’re on the same page. Other, more logistical issues can be talked about via email so you have a record and you can refer to them.
- Forgive and Try Again
You two are forging ahead into a new realm; don’t expect perfection. No matter how you feel about your ex personally, try your best to forgive them and move on. You don’t need that weight on your shoulder. It’ll just hold you back from working with them in a way that will help you both effectively co-parent. Will your ex keep making mistakes? Of course. But so will you. Just keep trying. It’s all you can both do.
- Negotiate What You Can
The court will have set forth certain parameters in who has the kids when, and other particulars. But what about the actual parenting? For example, what are the basic rules for your children with regards to homework, screen time, friend time, etc.? And what are the consequences if they break the rules? If you and your ex can get on the same page with this, co-parenting will be so much easier. However, it’s likely that you’ll both have different ideas on the details. So negotiate what you can. Give a little to get a little. Don’t be demanding or they may just do what they want anyway. Offer your case, give clear reasons, and let your ex know that in the best interest of the children, the more consistency from your house to their house the better.
- Keep a Positive Mindset
Don’t be negative and worry all the time. It’ll rub off on the kids and your ex. Be hopeful, even if inside it feels like things are failing. Co-parenting is a challenge. But you are in it for the long haul. While this may not be your ideal way of parenting, it is your reality. So accept it, and do your best within those parameters. Smile more, speak in a kind tone, and always remember for whom you are doing this.
Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy, happy marriages. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Google+ and Pinterest.