When Co-Parenting Seems Impossible

Posted on March 21, 2014

By: Hoang-Anh Zapien

When you cannot stand to be in the same room as your ex-spouse, having to co-parent with the other person seems difficult, if not impossible. But as unattainable as it seems, giving up on co-parenting is not an option if you want to do what is in the best interests of your children. Effective co-parenting is integral in helping children overcome divorce.

Psychologist Dr. Peggy Kruger Tietz recently shared some advice about what to do when co-parenting is not going as well as you would hope:

  1. Accept where you are. You are not in an ideal situation and it is not helpful to deny that. Do not get caught up in the "it isn't fair" game. It will only hinder your progress. Accept the fact that you will have a tougher time than some parents, and be willing to put in the work.
  2. Trust yourself. If your ex is a less than perfect parent. That is not something you can control. You cannot make up for that. You are already trying to be the best parent that you can be, so doing more will not make up for what your ex is not doing. Trust that you are doing your best, and know that every parent makes mistakes along the way.
  3. Create a support system. Make sure that you have people in your life who know your situation and generally give good advice. It can be a therapist, or you can talk to a good friend or family member. You need to strengthen yourself and have your own support if you are going to support your children.
  4. Be flexible. Dealing with your ex may not be fun. It will not be easy, but the more flexible you are, the more flexible he or she most likely will be. Being unwilling to change plans or to work things out will only make it harder on both of you. Do not cause yourself unnecessary headaches.
  5. Different houses have different rules. Your kids might "hate" you in that moment because you are more strict than your ex, but they will understand one day. Do what you think is best, and let your ex do what he or she thinks is best.

As the old saying goes, "no one ever said raising kids would be easy." Raising children with an ex-spouse makes this already difficult task even more difficult, but it is not impossible. If both parties are committed to doing what is best for the children, the emotions from the divorce will diminish in time, and the parties will be better suited to focus on co-parenting. When there is a committed effort from both parties, co-parenting may never be simple, but it can get easier.

Hoang-Anh Zapien is an Associate with Kring & Chung, LLP's Inland Empire office. She can be reached at (909) 941-3050 or azapien@kringandchung.com