Maybe love doesn't trump all in today's political climate. However, don't let your disagreements when co-parenting turn into last night's presidential debate. As I watched the first of three scheduled presidential debts, along with 65-million other viewers, I thought to myself, “I hope my clients are not taking notes on how disagreements should be resolved.” No matter which side of the aisle you sit on, both politicians could work on their skills regarding respect, following the rules, and self-control.
When in a co-parenting situation, inevitably, you are trying to work with someone whom you previously have not seen eye-to-eye with, either romantically, emotionally, or perhaps even politically. But, discord between parents has been shown to increase aggression, delinquency, and conduct problems in children. Additionally, these children are more likely to have social problems and increased difficulty in adjusting to school. So, how can you have a healthy debate with someone you are trying to co-parent with?
Communication is Key:
It is important for you and your former partner to communicate as much as possible. Make a calendar regarding your children's schedules so that both parents can have access to things like soccer games, parent-teacher conferences, or orthodontist appointments The more communication there is in advance, the less likely the two of you will be fighting about missing these important events after the fact.
Talk, Don't Fight:
Before engaging with your former partner, come up with a plan as to what you want to discuss and why it is important to reach a resolution regarding each topic. Setting yourself up for a civil discussion versus an argument with your former partner will put you in the right mind frame to get things done.
Reach an Agreement Regarding the Rules:
This applies to both the rules regarding your children and your personal boundaries. For example, coming up with essential parenting decisions such as bedtime, religious education, or school activities when you and your former partner are getting along will help give you a roadmap when things aren't so easy. This also applies to your personal boundaries. When talking with your former partner remind them that there are some things that are off limits to discuss.
Sometimes even the best-laid plans need to be changed last minute. Being flexible now will go a long way when perhaps in the future you need the same reciprocated.
Try to See Things from their Perspective:
Although it can be hard, try to see where your former partner is coming from. Hopefully it is from a place of trying to do what they believe is best for your children, just like you are.
If all of the above fail, your only option is not having to verbally duke-it-out every time your children have to start a new school, or you want to go on that once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Think about hiring a family law attorney when things with your former partner are going well. You can then put into place a roadmap as to what you do and don't agree on, so when you aren't seeing eye-to-eye, there is a plan in place. The best part is, this plan does not have to be set by a Judge. So long as you and your former partner are in agreement, it can be completed through mediation without ever stepping foot in a courtroom. To learn more about how a family law attorney or mediation can help you co-parent, contact a trusted Certified Family Law Specialist today.