Family & Relationships Marriage & Divorce

Co-Parenting Survival Tips

If you thought a divorce would end your misery you are probably right if you don't have to communicate with your ex and you are relatively financially stable.
Then, you can design the life you want with ease and move on.
But put a kid or two in the picture and a vindictive and controlling ex and suddenly your life is spinning out of control especially if you are the recipient of the new 50-50 custody arrangements.
Long gone is the tender years doctrine of mom getting the young kids.
Now, it's "Honey, I want custody.
" To stop the more contentious battles judges and therapists said, "Ok, let's just do co-parenting.
" Next thing you know, co-parenting classes are popping up and more and more therapists are getting a slice of the divorce pie.
Co-parenting seemed an easy out for the courts.
But it brings its own very special set of problems.
These become extreme when co-parenting with a jerk.
A jerk can be someone with a personality disorder such as narcissism, or a passive-aggressive or any kind of controller and manipulator.
Jerks come in both genders.
If you want to switch some times, the controller will make you jump through hoops, tell you that you are in violation of a court order and make your life miserable.
You will not get back the clothes you sent your kid in, and s/he might hold back important information that came from school or camp.
These are typical complaints.
You can do something about it.
If you expect it, prepare for it.
If you have not yet begun co-parenting, read and learn what the courts are doing and what they look for.
Expect to be court ordered to go to very bad co-parenting classes.
I know one therapist who forces parents to attend together and places them in a room alone with one another if they disagree.
This is about as helpful as marriage counseling for the newly divorced.
Of course you will be told to not say anything bad to the child about the other parent and of course you will hear about making schedules and informing the other parent when something comes up and you will hear a lot more like that, but what you won't be told is that co-parenting has become a nightmare for many.
What to do? Don't take it personally when you get nasty emails from your ex.
If you allow your emotions to run the show you will say and do things that you might regret.
Keep the nasty emails, and respond, "Your threats have been noted.
As far as your request goes, I have no problem in switching Friday nights for the next two weeks.
" Let the other parent know you hear them, but by refusing to engage any further you are letting them know it is not okay to harass you and you will not play the same dirty tricks with them.
Focus on the issues at hand.
Reply without emotion.
You lose clothes? It would be nice if your ex kept track of the clothes but realistically, very few do.
And remember, your child may decide to wear something different on the day they come home.
If you make a big deal of this, everyone loses.
It is one of the lesser evils of co-parenting.
If your ex is the one bothering you about missing clothes, respond that you are doing everything you can to please him, but sometimes not everything will be returned and he is welcome to also ask the child to remember to bring it home.
There is nothing wrong in getting your child to take responsibility at this level if you do it in an age-appropriate manner.
I have seen emails back and forth over t-shirts for weeks.
It isn't worth it.
No t-shirt is If you know you have a controller, keep the clothes for your time only that you want to always have.
Your time is better spent with the kids then worrying about these issues.
If co-parenting forces you to let go of some long held materialistic approach, consider it a bonus.
Kids just want to have fun and time with you.
The courts have presented us with a not so good approach to custody.
It forces couples who want nothing to do with one another into massive communication agendas.
The less you engage in blame, the better for all.
The more control of your emotions, the better decisions you make.
Focus on the nitty gritty details of times and schedules.
The online coparenting calendars are a great idea.
It takes the emotion out of the equation.
The best thing you can do is prepare.
If you had a controlling spouse, co-parenting can become an extreme sport.
Don't let that happen.
To find out more about co-parenting nightmares and how to deal with an abusive or controlling ex in custody situations, you can go to

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