Coparenting with an ex-partner can be challenging, especially if the relationship ended on rocky terms.
It can help to determine some coparenting boundaries or rules to ensure your child’s best interests remain at the heart of everything you do.
In a coparenting situation, boundaries can protect parents and children against any bitterness or anger that may exist between you and your ex-partner.
This list of coparenting rules and boundaries can help you have a healthy relationship with your ex-partner that benefits your child and supports you to heal after the separation.
1. Make a plan of parenting responsibilities
Create a clear, detailed plan that defines what you and your ex-partner’s responsibilities will be as you coparent together. Defining expectations you both agree to will give your child more consistency and stability. Having a plan will also help you avoid arguments and confusion.
2. Stick to a coparenting schedule
Create a comprehensive custody schedule with no room for misunderstandings. The plan should detail date and time of exchanges as well as holidays and important events. The schedule should be written with your child’s school and extracurricular priorities as the focus.
Respect the coparenting schedule by arriving on time to exchanges, letting the other parent know about changes, and modifying the schedule if necessary.
3. Keep it professional
It might be awkward at first, but treating your ex-partner like a business partner may minimise drama and arguments. Focus on working together respectfully for your child.
You should communicate with your ex-partner like you would with a colleague. Remain professional, respectful, and friendly. Keep out intimate details of your personal life, don’t let your emotions take over, and try to handle any disagreements away from your child.
4. Communicate effectively
It’s important to establish expectations of communication. You can use an app like TalkingParents exclusively for communication with your coparent. When using an app like this, you can reserve texts and calls for emergencies only.
You should also detail what you’ll talk about in your communication – and what you won’t talk about. Keep communication child-focused.
To curb conflict with your coparent, practise accountable and solutions-based communication. Some effective methods of healthy communication include using “I” statements instead of accusing, and offering solutions instead of arguing. For example, “I notice you’re usually running behind to Sunday pick-ups, should we change the schedule to meet 15 minutes later?”
5. Keep your personal lives private
Again, stick to keeping it professional and communicating effectively.
While coparenting is for the benefit of your child, it’s normal to grieve the separation from your ex-partner as you adjust to this new normal. An important step in healing is to move on and protect your new life.
Set strict boundaries of what you will and won’t discuss with your ex-partner. It’s wise to not snoop into your ex-partner’s personal life either, as this may hurt your feelings and hinder the process of moving on.
6. Be supportive of your ex-partner’s role as your coparent
Ultimately, coparenting is for the benefit of your child. Having a healthy coparenting relationship will be better for your child’s mental health, academic performance, and overall upbringing.
Encourage your coparent. Be friendly when you attend your child’s school events together, thank them for being on time to pick-ups and drop-offs, and don’t badmouth them in front of your child.
Are you having a difficult time navigating coparenting? We offer more tips in our blog post How to Make Joint Custody Work.
RAQ offers individual and couples counselling as well as mediation services for families experiencing separation.
To find out what services might suit you, please call us on 1300 364 277 between 8am-8pm Monday-Friday or 10am-4pm Saturday.