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What should I do if my ex will not co-parent?
What if co-parenting truly is not an option? Whether due to the relationship with your child’s other parent, the personality of the other parent, or a history of abuse, it is not always possible to foster a healthy co-parenting relationship. This situation is common, and while it is not always permanent, some techniques and tools can allow you to raise your children without needing to communicate every day.
If you cannot co-parent because the other parent is unwilling to communicate, or incapable of low-conflict discussions begin by recognizing that this a common occurrence that many parents experience. Some parents find it challenging to co-parent for a limited period, and other parents establish alternative parenting relationships for the remainder of their child’s youth.
Creating boundaries and parenting guidelines that work for you and the other parent is key to providing your child with stability. Consistency and structure are important and will allow you to create a situation that works for your dynamic.
Reasons Why Co-Parenting May Not Work
Co-parenting might be a seemingly impossible feat if the other parent refuses to communicate about your children, does not want to compromise, or makes inappropriate comments towards you. Narcissistic tendencies are also in direct contradiction to the skills needed to create a healthy co-parenting environment.
Additionally, if the other parent continually makes negative comments about you to your face or others, it may be necessary to stop the communication that triggers these arguments. Parents may choose to break the rules that have been agreed upon when it comes to the kids. All these scenarios, among many other examples, can make co-parenting challenging.
If you cannot co-parent because you believe that the other parent is unfit or unable to provide proper care for your child, you need to contact your attorney immediately.
Tips for Communicating
Take the High Road
We know, we know, this is such a cliché statement. However, this is the common thread amongst the tips that we have listed. You are only in control of yourself, your attitudes, and your reactions. The other parent may want to engage in arguments, gaslight, and say negative things about you when you are not around.
Arguing and getting heated will only escalate a conflict; you will need to find a way to respond calmly and appropriately. With every interaction, be thinking of how to create the best possible solution for your child and avoid playing into a toxic conversation.
Set New Boundaries
As you navigate the space of working as parents outside of a previous romantic relationship, you will need to establish new boundaries that work for you. Boundaries are what we determine are accepted and not accepted with other people.
Determine your own boundaries by reflecting on the things that make you feel upset or disrespected. Those are likely times when your co-parent crossed a boundary with you, with or without realizing it. If you want your boundaries to be listened to and respected, you will need to communicate them clearly.
Boundaries can be outlined in a conversion or more concretely through a communication plan established through your lawyers. Co-parenting services, such as TalkingParents, allow parents to communicate easily, securely, and accountably.
Talking to friends, family, and other professionals is a way to express your feelings and rely on your support system. Posting emotionally charged messages to social media and sharing details with people who are also involved in a relationship with the other parent may be labeled as inappropriate sharing.
Similarly, talking to your kids about all the arguments you are having with their other parent can create an environment of parental alienation and put the kids in a challenging position.
If you choose to share with others, make sure that it is someone you trust and who will not involve other people in your discussions. Threats from friends may be traced back to you and create a more complex scenario for your family.
Keep it Accountable
Documenting your communication keeps both parents accountable for their words and their actions. Keeping track of all written communication is integral to maintaining records of your conversations. These messages can be brought to court or your lawyer if you ever need to renegotiate your custody agreement.
Co-parenting tools such as TalkingParents, provide messaging, shared calendar, and recorded calling that are all securely kept in the Records. Records can be ordered or printed and used in court litigation if necessary.
Other Co-Parenting Options: Parallel Parenting
According to Psychology Today, parallel parenting is "an arrangement in which divorced parents are able to co-parent by means of disengaging from each other, and having limited direct contact, in situations where they have demonstrated that they are unable to communicate with each other in a respectful manner."
Unlike parenting plans that outline how parents will share time with their children, parallel parenting plans minimize the interaction between the two parents who have a joint custody arrangement. Successful parallel parenting plans are straightforward and thorough and leave no room for any interpretation.
TalkingParents blogs are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Always consult with a qualified attorney regarding legal matters.