Co-parenting with your ex will be a challenge for both of you. Even those who desperately want to put their children first often let their emotions get the better of them when co-parenting. Chances are good that you and the other parent of your children will eventually have arguments about your co-parenting arrangements.
If you recognize the potential sources of those disputes ahead of time, you can decrease the likelihood of frequent arguments straining your relationship and negatively impacting the mental health of your children. These are some of the most common sources of co-parenting disagreements that you will want to be proactive about.
1. Scheduling changes
When one parent wants to make an adjustment to the established schedule, the other may not respond favorably. The less notice that one parent gives the other and the more frequently they make these sudden changes, the more likely the issue is to lead to a dispute between co-parents.
Having rules in place for when and how the two of you can adjust your parenting schedule, such as requiring 24-hour notice for changes in any situation that is not an emergency and requiring that they communicate such changes to you in writing, can decrease the likelihood of disputes arising over your schedule. Many couples use parenting apps specifically so there won’t be arguments about the schedule and all the information about changes will be in one place.
2. New romantic partners
Few things will make a parent as emotional as the idea of a relative stranger having frequent access to their children. That is essentially what happens when either parent starts a new romantic relationship. Especially in cases involving cohabitation, parents may have real concerns about the influence of this other adult on their children and what risk they may present for their family.
Parents can avoid disputes related to third parties being around the children by including a right of first refusal clause in their parenting plan. While you can’t prevent the other parent from introducing someone new to the children, you can at least request that they leave the children with you instead of letting their new romantic partner serve as a babysitter.
3. Rules and standards for the children
Nothing strains the relationship that one parent has with their children and the relationship that parents have with one another like inconsistent rule enforcement. It can seem like one parent undermining the other if they don’t adhere to technology rules or curfew expectations during their parenting time.
The lack of consistency can also make the transition to shared custody more difficult for the children in your family. You will have an easier time cooperatively co-parenting when you have clear standards for your children and agree to enforce the same rules in both households.
Addressing possible sources of conflict proactively in your parenting plan will make co-parenting arrangements far less stressful and contentious for your family. If you already have a plan in place, mutually agreeing to modify terms as necessary may be a good option.