Parenting is hard enough when both parents are in the same home. But when you are divorced or no longer with your significant other, it can make parenting that much more difficult.
Children often like to play both sides, sometimes pitting one parent against the other to try to get their own way, which can create havoc in an already delicate relationship. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
When co-parents work together and communicate effectively, it will be difficult for children to play one parent against one another.
When you first divorce or separate, your child will instantly begin to test the waters to see what he or she can get away with. This is a very normal emotion for a child to feel, and isn’t something to worry about. But when it becomes a pattern, then it is time for the two of you as co-parents to nip it in the bud.
In my situation, there were many instances that my son would ask me something and I said no. He would then turn around and ask his father (without telling his father that I said no), and his father would say yes. This created so much conflict that finally, we both had enough. We laid down some laws, rules that we still follow to this day:
When my son asks for something, or there is a major decision involving him, his father and I make sure to speak to one another to get on the same page. We do not communicate with one another through our son, or allow my son to make decisions without the both of us being involved. Doing this has saved us a lot of misunderstandings.
Co-parent team players: When I make a decision (or vice versa), it is backed by my co-parent. We always project a uniform and united front when it comes to our son, so he knows there isn’t any room for playing us against one another.
Co-parent court: There have been many times where my son wants to plead his case, and sometimes, we end up changing our minds. We all get on the speakerphone and I allow my son to speak to the both of us and discuss any issues he may have. Doing so does wonders for our communication and every once in a while, after hearing him, my co-parent will open my eyes to another viewpoint that I may not have thought of before. It also shows my son that we are both actively involved in his parenting.
These three rules really helped open the lines of communication and has made it easy for my co-parent and I to do our jobs. In addition, it makes our child’s life easier. And that is a positive for all of us.
By Danyelle Little, co-parenting blogger for SmartParenting