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Solutions For Avoiding Parenting Pitfalls When You Hate Your Ex

Getting along with an ex is not in the cards for everyone. It's simply not always possible to smooth things over after a custody battle or other feud during the split, and that's okay. No law says you need to stay friends, but sharing children together means that co-parenting is inevitable. Follow these strategies for parenting without drama even when you hate your ex.

Brace Yourself for the Reality of Divorced Co-Parenting

Co-parenting during the divorce is not going to be a walk in the park. It will be rewarding but not easy. Brace yourself for the fact that it will be challenging, then it will be easier to face the small bumps in the road that you face. Accept the fact that your ex is not likely to change, so the things that drove you nuts about your ex in the marriage will continue to do so after the divorce.

It will be easier to keep your cool when you anticipate that your ex will do things you dislike. That doesn't mean letting your ex off the hook for bad behavior. For example, your ex needs to be on time when dropping the kids off and picking them up. However, if your ex does small things just to get on your nerves, try to brace yourself for impact and shake it off as best you can.

Be Consistent with Communication Rules

Boundaries are more important than ever when you don't get along with an ex. They need to be clearly established and respected by both parties. Start by mutually deciding how you want to communicate. If you can't stand the sound of your ex's voice, simply text-messaging each other once per day with updates on the kids' lives and schedules may be sufficient.

When setting communication rules, also agree on guidelines for when those rules can be broken and how that should happen. For example, if there's an emergency with one of the children, designate the best way that you can be reached at a moment's notice, and get that same information from your ex. Efficiently co-parenting means also planning for worst-case scenarios.

Agree on All Methods of Discipline

One surefire way to keep the drama going for years to come is to try to discipline your kids in different ways. Try to agree with your ex on discipline methods, or it can be hard on children to try to adapt to two different sets of rules and punishments depending on which house they're in.

Most of all, be clear about the things that you won't tolerate. For example, the American Psychology Association reported that spanking has been shown by behavioral experts to be harmful to children, so many parents are mutually agreeing to always refrain from corporal punishment in both homes after a divorce. Be specific about parenting rules for all discipline.

Don't Try to Wing It 

When it comes to parenting during a divorce with a cantankerous ex, don't try to wing it. You need to be proactive about creating a positive parenting plan. When doing so, be as specific as possible. Include details of how long your kids will be with each parent. Discuss which parent is responsible for specific expenses and how information will be shared.

Once the parenting plan is set, hold your ex accountable for keeping it. Prioritize sticking to the parenting plan yourself. Keep records of what you do to honor it and make a note of every time your ex breaks it. Talk to your lawyer about what your options may be if your ex continues to break a parenting plan.

Keep Negative Feelings About Your Ex to Yourself

Never vent when little ones are around. If your ex does something you disagree with in front of your children, do your best to not react in an emotional way. It's okay to explain that you feel that a certain action is morally wrong. However, try to avoid attacking your ex's character. When you criticize, be specific about a certain behavior and don't drag in old grudges.

Finally, keep the children first in every interaction you have with your ex. It's hard to go wrong when you keep those priorities in mind. Ask your ex to do the same. Whether you're considering a divorce or have ongoing custody concerns, contact the Gerardin Law Firm for all your family law needs.