Parenting with an ex after separation is never an easy thing.
The disruption in your own life, as well as the lives of your children, can be difficult and no one is prepared to deal with the challenges.
Plus, every situation is different – your ex may be respectable and willing to work with you to make the transition for your children easy or they may harbor negative feelings and act belligerently out of spite.
You may have some negative feelings too.
Setting all of that aside is not easy but having a plan and an idea of what to expect can make the situation more ideal for your children – not perfect, mind you, but easier.
Here are tips for parenting with your ex after a separation:
Parenting Agreements and Court Orders
The first thing you should do is have any agreements between you and your ex documented in written form.
If your ex is agreeable, you can write up a parenting plan outlining things like visitations, transportation and how you plan on sharing information about the children.
This will protect you in case your ex decides to change things without proper notice.
However, parenting plans cannot be upheld in court, which is why it’s a good idea to have a court order.
Court orders are also helpful for parents who cannot come to an agreement on certain aspects of parenting separately. Having a lawyer represent each of you ensures that agreements are made in an unbiased manner.
Most of the time, you don’t need a judge to pass a ruling on decisions regarding your children. In the majority of family court cases, a case master will simply hear both sides, facilitate an agreement and make it official in a court order.
Court orders protect the rights of you and your children. There can be harsh penalties for breaking a court order so it helps to keep both you and your ex in line.
Court orders will also specify what kind of notice is required to make changes to the agreement. No parent can be expected to follow things perfectly without unforeseeable changes.
However, if any major changes need to made to the agreement, they should be updated in the court order.
Co-Parenting Versus Parallel Parenting
Chances are that your spiteful ex will calm down once the negative emotions have passed and they have adjusted to their new way of living.
However, in some cases, this never gets better.
When you’re dealing with a difficult ex, the best strategy to adopt is that of parallel parenting.
Co-parenting is a term to describe an amicable situation where separated parents respect each other and make decisions in the best interest of the children.
Yes, disagreements may arise, but both parents are willing and able to deal with them in a civil and understanding manner.
When this doesn’t work, parallel parenting is the best option. It involves limiting communication with your ex and removing them from your personal life.
This strategy greatly eliminates any conflict between the two of you – which is ultimately better for your children.
Here are some tips for parallel parenting with your ex:
Limit your communication to writing. Only communicate with your ex via text or email. This will help if your ex tries to accuse you of saying something you didn’t or denies saying something they did.
Learn to ignore. Spiteful exes will attack you and try to draw you into arguments. Whenever they try to carry out personal assaults against you, ignore them. While it’s hard not to defend yourself, it won’t solve anything.
Remove them from your personal life. You are under no obligation to share details about your personal life with your ex. Remove and block them from social media and limit your conversations to talking only about the children.
Facilitate a relationship between your ex and the children. You may decide that your ex is bad news but they are still legally allowed to have a relationship with your children. Don’t use your children against your ex and do what you can to foster a relationship between them.
Hopefully, over time you can transition from a parallel parenting strategy to a co-parenting one.
If you are dealing with a narcissistic ex, however, you may have to stick to parallel parenting. Again, it’s not a perfect or ideal parenting situation but it will create a better sense of harmony for your children.
Put Your Child First
Overall, the focus of parenting with an ex after separation is to put your children first and do what is in their best interest.
This means allowing them to have a relationship with the other parent while eliminating conflict and chaos in their lives.
It can definitely take time to reach this stage but, as long as you prioritize your children’s well-being, things will seem less stressful and difficult.