Many couples struggle in the early days (and months) after separation to co-parent in a way that helps ease the stress on their kids. Their negative feelings toward one another are often still at the surface. If this is an issue for you and your co-parent, one strategy that can help is to treat each other with the same courtesy and respect you treat work colleagues.
Specifically, if your relationship with your ex is still marred by anger, jealousy and betrayal, you may need to think of your ex as a co-worker you don’t particularly like personally. You still have to work together and be civil to each other.
You may already be taking a business-like approach to the legal aspects of your divorce. You may have to carry that approach over into how you treat someone who is going to continue to be part of your life and with whom you will have to make some important decisions.
Examples of collegial co-parenting behavior
What does it mean to treat your ex much like you would a colleague? Here are some examples:
- Don’t denigrate or criticize them in front of your kids or publicly (for example, on social media).
- Respond to their questions and requests for information courteously and promptly — but not so quickly that you don’t think about what you’re saying and how they’ll perceive it.
- Keep them in the loop on things they need to know about the kids and their activities.
- Keep your word when you make a commitment.
Basically, treat them the way you wish to be treated. Even if they don’t return your civility just yet, they are more likely to come around if you take the high road.
If you need some structure for your co-parenting before your custody agreement is worked out, it’s a good idea to put a parenting plan in place – at least a temporary one. This will give you something to refer to if there’s any disagreement or confusion. This is just one reason why it’s wise to have legal guidance from the very beginning of the divorce process.