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Raising kids is tough, but it could be worse if you find yourself in a situation where you are co-parenting with a difficult ex. This could occur after separating from your partner, whether through a divorce or a break-up, or even if you were not in a serious relationship with the person and got a child with them by ‘accident’. 

You might find it difficult to raise children together when separated, especially if your relationship ended badly. For example, if your ex cheated on you, abused you, was a narcissist, or they had other toxic traits. Since you still may be forced to share custody of your kids with them, it will be good to know how to deal with a difficult ex when co-parenting.

When parents separate, children are often caught in the middle and are the most affected ones. But this doesn’t have to happen in your case, and the two of you can find ways to make it work and provide stability and security for your kids as co-parents. This post will give you several tips for co-parenting with a difficult ex for your children’s sake and your benefit as well.

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How to Make Co-Parenting with a Difficult Ex Easier

  1. Set boundaries

One mistake that many separated parents make while co-parenting is trying to seem like they are more approachable and fun than their ex, and thus, overindulge their kids and allow them to do and have whatever they want. You might give them too many gifts or fail to discipline or correct them when they do something wrong, in order to seem more approachable or to make up for your absence if you are always too busy or if you don’t get to spend the majority of the time with them. 

But that is a mistake because it could affect your child negatively as they grow up. For example, they could feel entitled, have bad behavior, or have chronic feelings of discontent. If your ex usually does this, and that is why you think they are difficult, it is time to create some rules for everyone to follow.

To provide consistency to the children and avoid conflict when co-parenting with a difficult ex, come together and set boundaries on what the kids are allowed to do and what they aren’t. If your ex doesn’t change their behavior, try to keep the rules consistent on your side as much as you can, even if it will make you seem like the bad guy. Your children will thank you later for not letting them go astray.

  1. Try to be a team

Just because you are not together anymore doesn’t mean you need to be enemies who don’t talk to each other, are always fighting in front of the kids, or bad-mouthing each other to them or other people. The home environment in which you raise your kids can affect how they turn out when they grow up, and as their parents, you most likely want the best for your children.

If you both want to make this work, one of the best tips for co-parenting with a difficult ex is to try to be a team for the sake of your children. Neither of you should make major decisions that affect the kids without consulting the other, avoid arguing or criticizing each other in front of the children or where they can hear you, and keep the lines of communication open (preferably emails or texts). Presenting a united front to your kids at all times will make them feel safe.

  1. Put your child’s needs first

If your relationship ended badly, one or both of you might have gotten hurt and are still holding a grudge. They might get irritated easily by what the other does, keep bringing up past mistakes, or be hostile. But, unfortunately, this won’t do your children any good as it might strain communication and cause unnecessary confrontations, thereby making an already difficult situation worse.

One of the best tips on how to co-parent with a difficult ex is to remind yourself that it is no longer about the two of you or your feelings towards each other. You are co-parenting in order to try to provide stability and security for your children. When co-parenting with a difficult ex, you should agree to put your children’s needs first and set aside any issues the two of you may have.

You could adopt a business-like attitude towards this and try to limit your conversations to topics regarding your children and their welfare. If you need help sorting out your emotions and letting go of the past, you can keep a journal, talk to a friend or family member, or seek professional help from a therapist.

Photo by Monstera from Pexels
  1. Manage your expectations

Having high expectations of other people often leads to disappointment. So, one of the best tips for co-parenting with a difficult ex is not to expect too much from them. If you think your ex is difficult because he doesn’t meet your expectations, you might need to take a step back and evaluate what you expect from them.

Don’t expect your ex to change how they were before you separated to become your ideal co-parenting partner overnight. For example, if they were always busy before and didn’t have much time to spend with family, they will probably still be even now that you are separated.

Also, don’t expect your ex to read your mind to know what you think the kids need. Always communicate clearly with them about what you want.

  1. Take them to court

Unfortunately, despite all your efforts to make co-parenting with a difficult ex work, things might still be complicated and you may need to go to a family court. For example, they could fail to pay for child support or the spousal support agreed upon, they might neglect their kid by not showing up when they are supposed to or fail to supervise them, or, perhaps, they abuse the child.

Since you know your ex is difficult, always prefer to communicate with them through written methods such as texts and emails instead of phone calls. These will make it easier to prove your ex’s guilt if you ever have to go to court.

If you are co-parenting with a difficult ex and are considering taking them to court, book a free consultation at Wade Law Group if you live in the state of California, US. They have savvy, competent attorneys who can help you settle disputes regarding child support, spousal support, and child custody.

Final Words

Children are affected the most when their parents separate. But the good thing is that co-parenting with an ex doesn’t have to be difficult. As long as you both love your kids and want what’s best for them, it shouldn’t be so hard to work together to provide them with a secure and stable home environment. If you are currently in this tough situation and are struggling to provide security and stability for your child, the above tips for co-parenting with a difficult ex could make it easier.

This is a collaborative post.

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