Alright so there’s no simple solution to a lifelong situation. The matter of fact is, you have to deal with another person raising your child with you- while you’re not together. That shi* is HARD. So many things get so foggy. From teaching morals and principles, to how you prefer your child’s haircut. I’m no pro at coparenting. I struggle, and constantly have to evolve my way of thinking to adapt to the times.
As a matter of fact, I have two kids in my home that are being coparented. My husband has a child from a previous relationship, and I have a child from a previous relationship as well. That means we BOTH have to coparent with other people. Our home is undoubtedly our home, but we have to always work through the concerns & wishes of our BM & BD (Baby’s mom & Baby’s Dad). As step parents, my husband and I realize we can’t control or have a full say in what each of our step kids do or what decisions are made, but we definitely have an influence on them and care for them unconditionally. As your kids grow older, there will be new coparenting conversations, battles, and compromising that will happen. But, that communication with the other parent, no matter how much you like or don’t like them…is inevitable.
Here are some of BASIC tips I’ve acquired over the years.
1. DELETE ALL ROMANTIC FEELINGS!
That’s the biggest one. Whenever anyone I know reaches out to me for coparenting advice, I always ask this first. Do you have any feelings for this person? Are you still in any way romantically attached to the (other) parent? If you are working on a coparenting relationship, the number one rule is DO NOT HAVE ANY ROMANTIC FEELINGS FOR THAT PERSON. I think it’s nearly impossible to coparent in a healthy and logical manner if you’re still hung up on baby daddy/baby momma. I know sometimes unforeseen circumstances come up and you’re hung up on the person you created a child with. I get it. My advice to you is if you know for sure the relationship has no hope of mending, work on letting go. Do the personal work necessary to remove the idea of you and this person parenting as a unit.
Removing all romantic tension and relations creates a space for clean energy, no ulterior motives, and the child’s best interest. You are NOT doing what’s best for your child if your parenting and coparenting decisons are based on getting your ex back, going against their opinions, or getting their attention. IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THEM! It’s about your child. If you really cannot get the emotional baggage drama away from the person you’re coparenting with, then just TRY to separate the topics that refer to your child from your attempts at a relationship with them.
When there is no romantic tension, you’re able to really assess situations from a non biased standpoint. You can really take a look at what’s happening in your child’s life and make logical decisions. Communication shouldn’t be difficult if you’re BOTH putting the child before any of your own drama. Don’t complicate what’s already so complicated. Let it go.
2. SET BOUNDARIES!
Ok, so now you’re able to communicate without all the confusing and baggage related drama. You’re thinking about your child and you realize their other parent is just as much a part of their life. This in a weird way makes you realize you are family. Some kind of warped family that swaps your kid from home to home. That’s ok! So many kids are living in this reality, and it’s up to YOU and the other parent to normalize it.
You NEED to talk to this person for the rest of you & your child’s life. So set the tone. Be consistent with what you’re willing to talk about, and what you’re not willing to talk about. Be strategic with what kind of relationship you want and how much you want them involved in your household. Yes, you both need to respect each other’s wishes to a certain extent – but your decision making in your own home should be predominantly up to you and private. Of course there are times where there will need to be collaborative decision making, but with the day to day – there’s no need to OVER communicate. For example: Don’t get into what you did that day, or what you’re going to do, or what you’re dealing with personally when you’re having coparenting conversations. It’s most likely irrelevant to whatever is going on time-sharing wise or any other topic based on your child.
3. REMEMBER TO BREATHE!
Try to set healthy boundaries. I said to cut romantic thoughts, right? That doesn’t mean this person won’t get under your skin anymore. That doesn’t mean this person won’t try to pry in on your personal life. That doesn’t mean this person won’t point fingers at you when they’re trying to prove a point. That doesn’t mean this person won’t occasionally take out the crap going on in their life on you. We’re all human. The way you deal with these unexpected “blow ups” or quarrels ultimately will only affect you. That’s right. YOU.
If your BM/BD (Baby momma/Baby daddy), is taking out their frustration on you indirectly, just try your best to remain calm & not give them more fuel to continue a pointless argument. In my experience it’s best to wait it out and let it roll over if it’s not something you feel is necessary to immediately solve. If you participate in a back and forth argument, you’re only creating more friction in your personal life and for what? It’s not like you and your BM/BD need to LIKE each other. You shouldn’t be fighting like if you’re a couple!
Conversations should be strictly about the child you share. Not about your opinions of each other, or what you assume the other parent is doing wrong etc. If you feel the urge to feed into a possible quarrel – stop and breathe. Remember that it is best for your child to feel a non conflict energy between the homes they’re shifting back and forth from.
4. HAVE NO EXPECTATIONS!
Like I mentioned earlier, you can’t control the person you coparent with. You can’t control their thoughts, their actions, their way of communicating with you. But you can set the tone & be persistent with the kind of environment you want your coparenting relationship to live in. You have control over you only. Don’t work yourself up on thoughts of the future, or expect your BM/BD to act a certain way, or speak to you a certain way. The truth is that you can be a perfect role model coparenting unit one day – and watch it all crumble the next day. There are constantly moving factors when it comes to coparenting. Like the child & the obstacles they face and the new milestones they reach. Or your child’s learning environment, friends, actions, etc. There will always be a need to pivot when it comes to raising children regardless, so don’t expect that to be any different when the child is living in two homes. Drop your expectations of what you think your relationship with BM/BD should look like, and just do your best every day. Live in the present moment, and don’t stress about the “what if” world.
The most important factor will alway be the child you’re both raising. What is in that child’s best interest should always lead every thought, text, and call.
Stay tuned for more tips soon.