father's hand on daughter's neck

Tips for getting along with your Co-Parent

What follows are some practical tips for getting along with your Co-Parent:

  1. Always refer to the other parent as your Co-Parent. Never refer to this person as “my ex”, “former partner”, “enemy” or anything else.
  2. It is always Our child. It is never My child.
  3. You cannot be an excellent parent and a lousy co-parent. Think about that.
  4. Make small talk. Speak to your co-parent in an unemotional, friendly, light tone. Talk about the weather, sports, local news, etc. Be polite and make small talk. This works wonders and opens the door to being able to communicate with your co-parent.
  5. Emotional thermometer. Always take your own emotional temperature. Avoid engaging with your co-parent when you can’t do so constructively. Manage your own emotions and this will do two things: 1. Teach your child to manage their emotions, and 2. Avoid stressing out your child from listening to you not being able to manage your own emotions.
  6. Acceptance. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to agree with it. You can even hate it. But recognize when it is your reality.
  7. History. Don’t talk about the history of your relationship or the past with your co-parent. If you can’t avoid talking about the past, then this is a sign that you need to get into individual therapy or group therapy immediately. Your history is important to you, but it does not change the future. Changing your own behavior now is what will help you change the future.
  8. Weekly co-parent phone calls. When in doubt about what to talk about then share a positive experience or funny story about your child from when your child was with you. You can also share photos and videos with your co-parent from the time you had your child. Talk about the upcoming schedule, school, activities, and any medical issues. Don’t talk about money. The phone call can be 6-15 minutes in length.
  9. Always use your right to opt out. If the conversation isn’t going anywhere either in person or by phone be polite but say this isn’t working for me so I’m going to go and then promptly get off the phone or leave.
  10. Create good memories. Can you stand on the soccer field together, go to a recital together, or attend a parent-teacher conference without making your child feel “nervous”? Can you make it the best Thanksgiving ever, a fabulous Halloween, or a peaceful Christmas? It is up to you and your co-parent to make these childhood memories free of parental conflict.