Co-Parenting Mistakes You Need To Avoid!
The time in your life when you have decided to separate is fraught with emotions. The fear and uncertainty that that people for themselves and their children while managing this tremendous change cloud their judgement. In addition, ugly litigation is hurtful, and it fuels resentment and anger. There’s no wonder why parents make mistakes that damage shared parenting relationships. Here are some parenting pitfalls to avoid:
1. Don’t Respect Boundaries – Recently we met with a mom that in the spirit of helping her ex-husband spend more time with the kids would have him see the kids at her house. This was the house they had once shared together. It wasn’t unusual for her to arrive at home and find him laying around with the kids in her bed. Despite her attempts to explain that this was no longer appropriate for him, he simply didn’t respect the boundary and couldn’t understand that this space was no longer his. That extra time he had with his kids quickly disappeared. This case feels extreme, however, any failure to listen to boundaries can have the same result.
2. Keep Children and Money Entangled– Avoiding this mistake takes discipline. In some states, child support is determined by percentage of time each parent has with the child. While there are some benefits to this approach, it trains parents to bundle children and money issues. When disagreements become both about money and parenting time, solving them can feel like a re-litigation of your divorce. Who needs that?
3. Don’t Weaponize the Kids– In some instances this one builds on mistake #2. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard one parent say something like this to the other, “you, can see the kids after you pay for summer school tuition.” We can appreciate the temptation with this kind of bargaining. And we know many parents might feel it’s the only lever left to be pulled to get a result, but it comes at an incredibly steep price. It’s feels like ransom to the other parent. It alienates them, puts the kids in the middle and the other parent, to end the ransom scenario, will inevitable tell the kids what’s happening. This path becomes destructive and will obliterate your co-parenting relationship fast and will ultimately impact the kids.
4. Won’t be flexible- The plainest way to say this is, “shit happens.” You or your co-parent will come home late from work and one of you will need a favor from the other. This is an opportunity to build trust. Unfortunately, in the battle over parental control, many parents take on no exception policies. This is not to suggest that one should be a doormat for the other parent, but like we said, earlier, “shit happens.” In a book I read about a decade ago (can’t recall the name) this is a chance to make a deposit in the emotional bank account of your co-parent. When you make enough deposits, when you need help you can also request a withdrawal in the form of help.
5. Text/Email Fight Over Money- Almost everyone makes this mistake and with good reason, how else would you talk about money issues? Text and email don’t offer up a process for resolving disputes and it’s easy for the conversation to become emotional and lose control. To resolve disputes, you need a process and a way to track them and unfortunately, email and text will not serve you well. Allowing money issues to fester will deteriorate your co-parenting relationship so be proactive and consider using apps that have built a dispute process for you and end the money fight before it begins.
6. Never use the word “visitation” – If you want to trigger your non-custodial parent, this is how you do it, remind the other parent about their “visits” with their kids. I’d like to thank the family court system for providing this lovely language to make non-custodial parents feel like strangers or someone that should be talking to a child through a glass pane. Don’t be that person that passive aggressively uses this language, you can do better.
7. No Context in Communication- You and your co-parent need each other to raise your children and one way to kill trust, is the blanket “no.” text or email. I have heard people say that they don’t owe the other parent explanations and fair enough this is true. But a little explanation to say, “I’d like to help but I can’t” goes a long way.
DComply is an excellent app that can help you in the process of co-parenting. In fact, it is one of the best apps for divorced parents. You can easily manage child expense tracking activities and can pay child support online too. You should certainly consider DComply to reduce stress and help you avoid some detrimental co-parenting mistakes after your divorce.