How To Co-Parent Effectively Even If Your Co-Parent Is Difficult

Frustrated parents having an argument in the kitchen.
Frustrated parents having an argument in the kitchen. skynesher via Getty Images

Whether you’re separated or divorced, parenting children can be difficult to navigate if you decide to split up. There are all sorts of feelings involved, maybe some resentment, and the whole family can find it difficult to deal with the change.

It can get complicated, especially if you’re not on good terms with your ex. Even if you want the best for your children, putting your own feelings aside isn’t  always easy.

Alhough co-parenting can seem complicated, parents in similar situations have spoken about what helped them to navigate the dynamic, as well as things they wish they knew earlier.

1. Communication is key

Although there is no rulebook on how to co-parent effectively, most parents seem to agree on this one piece of advice.

One parent asked on Mumsnet for positive co-parenting stories as well as some tips, to which a user replied: “Key is communication and thinking of what is best for kids rather than what is best for yourself or getting one over on your ex.”

Another said: “We always communicate at the earliest point when booking holidays, any changes that might be needed to our child’s arrangements etc.

“We make sure to include each other in preparation for big changes like new schools, house moves, new siblings etc etc.”

2. It does get easier

Initially it might feel difficult to navigate the right co-parenting style for you. But one parent who has been co-parenting for years says it gets easier, you just need to stay organised.

They said: “Big decisions are made jointly, information is shared, punishments continued across households if needed so no parent is bad cop.

“Parents evenings attended together etc. We have a joint account for child related expenses. Do I need to bite my tongue sometimes-sure.

“Is there an odd thing I wish they did differently-yes. But am sure they feel the same about me. I pick my battles and only raise things I’d really necessary. It gets easier and easier as the years pass.”

3. Even if you don’t have an amicable relationship, you can still co-parent just fine

Parents however were quick to admit that though their relationship with the other is not always amicable, they have to set things aside to co-parent.

One person explained that her and her my ex-husband co-parent successfully, despite their issues.

In fact, she went on to admit that they don’t like each other very much but have both been able to push past that when it comes to the kids.

She wrote: “We’re always on the same page, we speak on the phone to discuss how to deal with issues, we have each other’s back, we go to parents evenings together.

“It’s not always easy, sometimes it’s bloody hard work and I’m looking forward to when the kids are older and we no longer have to do it, but at the end of the day, the kids come first, and we both feel that way.”

4. Try not to speak negatively about your co-parent in front of the kids

Hendrix Hammond, Psychotherapist and spokesperson for the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) says that, negative talk about your co-parent in front of your child is confusing for them, saying:

“It’s important to remember that children rarely take sides in unhealthy co-parenting dynamics. Instead, they often struggle to navigate the situation, leading to behavioural issues such as acting out, emotional withdrawal, and heightened anxiety.”

Though co-parenting can be challenging, these tips can hopefully make the journey slightly easier.