Co-Parenting With the Ex

Co parenting with an ex
Co parenting with an Ex
Achieve Life Balance White Lake MI

5 Tips for Co-Parenting With An Ex

Your children are watching the two of you interact—and learning from it. They’re not only observing how you communicate, they’re storing away these methods as the foundation for future relationships. Your kids don’t just want you to get along; they need you to get along. Whenever communicating with your ex gets tedious, remember this mantra “Our Kids Needs Us to Work Together” and try the following tips.



1) Communicate Like Teammates
You might be at odds in a thousand ways, but when it comes to your children, you are on the same team. Successful teammates don’t tear each other down, lay blame or shut the other player out. They collaborate.

Consider the differences in communication between these two examples:

“You never help Jack with his homework. Now he’s failing!”
“What can we do to help Jack improve his grades?”

“Why can’t you ever put Emma to bed on time? She’s always late for school and comes home cranky!”
“Emma’s really struggling to get up in time for school. What can we do to help her get more sleep?


2) Find Common Ground with Your Co-Parent
Co-parenting works best when parents work together. But it’s often extremely difficult to align two separate households. After all, who wants an “outsider” dictating how you run your home?

On the other hand, it’s just as frustrating to set boundaries in your home, only to have them negated when your child returns to the co-parent. By far, the most common complaint I hear is that a co-parent is too strict, too lenient or too inconsistent.

Children crave comfort and stability. The more cohesive the households, the smoother the transition for everyone. But how can two distinct households find common ground? Using positive parenting techniques is the number one recommendation for creating dual households that come the closest to meeting on common ground and lowering stress for everyone. 

• Start with House Rules
Ask your ex to list what he/she feels is important to running a smooth household. Do the same. What rules are similar? What rules can you agree on? Are you willing to add to your list or remove items? Your list does not have to be long. In fact, five to 10 rules works best. If you have older children, it may even be helpful to establish one or two non-negotiable rules that neither household will bend on. These are usually safety or value-based (for example: no texting or on-line activities allowed after 11pm).

• Discuss Consequences
Once you have a set of rules that you both agree on, it’s extremely beneficial to preset the consequence that will follow if any of the specific rules are broken. This step will not only create consistency between both houses, it can also relieve a lot of stress! Imagine how swift discipline would be if you already have a consequence established. To establish the best consequence for each rule, follow the same method as you did to set the house rules: create a separate list of options and look for similar methods or areas where you can compromise.

• Post the List of Rules in Both Households

• Consider Adding an Age-Appropriate Chores/Responsibility List
When creating a chore list, keep in mind chores must fit the age-level and capability of each child. It’s also important the chore list is manageable. And while you align chores between households, it’s okay for them to vary as well.


3) Compromise When You Can’t Agree
This article talks a lot about finding areas you and your ex can agree on, but what happens when you simply can’t find common ground? It’s time to compromise.

Luckily, compromise can be reached in several valuable ways including meeting in the middle, and give and take. Here are some examples of co-parenting compromises:

Compromise Example 1:

Mom: Sara’s always in a better mood when she gets enough sleep. Can we set her bedtime at 8:30?
Dad: I don’t get home from work until 8:30. I won’t get to see her. What about 9:30?
Mom: It takes so long to settle her down. I’d be afraid she wouldn’t fall asleep until 10:00.
Dad: What if I read to her in bed at 9:00? Lights out by 9:15, latest 9:30?
Mom: That’s great! I love reading to her before bed. It really helps her settle in faster too.

Compromise Example 2:

Mom: Sara’s always in a better mood when she gets enough sleep. Can we set her bedtime at 8:30?
Dad: I don’t get home from work until 8:30. I won’t get to see her. What about 9:30? I’ll read to her in bed too. That will help her fall asleep faster.
Mom: She has to get up so early to get to school. That still doesn’t give her enough sleep.
Dad: If she got everything ready for school the night before, I could let her sleep in another 20 minutes in the morning.
Mom: She’s old enough to handle that responsibility. I could let her sleep in the extra twenty minutes too. That works.

Compromise Example 3:

Mom: Sara’s always in a better mood when she gets enough sleep. Can we set her bedtime at 8:30?
Dad: I don’t get home from work until 8:30. I won’t get to see her. What about 9:30?
Mom: I still don’t think that gives her enough sleep. Are you sure you can’t move it up to 9:00?
Dad: It’s important to me to see her. Plus if we keep her schedule consistent, I think she’ll sleep better overall.
Mom: That’s true. Regular exercise may help her sleep better too. She wants to join the afterschool basketball team.
Dad: I know, but I can’t pick her up in time after practice, remember?
Mom: If I agree to the 9:30 bedtime, could you find a carpool for her on your days? That way she can play basketball, she’ll sleep better and you can still see her when you get home? I’ll keep up the same arrangement when she’s with me.
Dad:  Deal.


4) Remember: You Both Have Something To Offer
Have you ever paid close attention to how men typically interact with young children versus women? Moms often cuddle or carry babies chest to chest—baby faces Mom. Dads, on the other hand, are more open to carrying baby chest to back—with baby facing the world. Do not underestimate your parenting value, or your exes. You might not always like the way your co-parent handles your kids, but try to step back and assess if your dislike is a valid concern, or simply a difference in preference. Here are some tips for co-parents you may find useful if you’re open to working together.


5) Align Your Values
A great exercise for all parents is to consider what core values you’d like to instill in your children. Values can include: strength, knowledge, honesty, charity, education, perseverance, humility, humanity, etc. Find a good list on line, print it out and start circling the values that mean the most to you. Make a copy and ask your ex to do the same. Highlight the values you can agree on or at least compromise on. If you don’t agree on any values? Don’t worry, this is a great opportunity to support each other’s differences. Offer to honor and promote values important to your ex, and ask for him/her to do the same.

Need Additional Support?
Have specific questions related to this topic including assistance finding local resources? I’ve supported numerous couples over the years.  Contact Susan directly (for free! Yes, free, and no obligations at all). I’ll do my best to provide the support you need.






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