Co-parenting with your ex can be very difficult, especially when there are negative feelings involved. But, no matter what your relationship is like with your ex, your child should always come first. This means putting their best interests above your own and finding a way to develop a harmonious relationship with your co-parent. Despite what occurred during your relationship and what caused the relationship to end, you need to be able to take the high road, so your child doesn’t suffer.

The first step to a healthy (or amicable) co-parenting relationship is to sit down and talk. This is where you can set boundaries, goals and develop a plan to make sure your child gets the best care possible.

Here are some things you don’t want to do while co-parenting:

  • Don’t poison your child’s relationship with the other parent.
  • Never use your child as a puppet to get back at, or hurt your ex.
  • Don’t use gifts or bribes to satisfy your child when you’re feeling guilty about your situation.
  • Don’t become so emotionally needy that your child feels guilty if they spend time with others.
  • Avoid placing hurt feelings and frustrations toward your ex onto your child.
  • Never force your child to pick a side when there’s an issue between you and your ex.
  • Don’t use your child to gather information, or to manipulate and influence your ex.
  • Try not to depend too much on your child for companionship and support when you feel hurt or lonely.

Here are some things you can do to better your situation:

  • Sit down with your ex to set aside your differences and commit to always putting your child first.
  • Plan out and schedule time spent together and apart, such as holidays, visits and special occasions – and make sure to be flexible.
  • Discuss boundaries and behavioural guidelines to raise your child so that there’s consistency in their lives, regardless of which parent they’re with at any given time.
  • Negotiate and agree on the role extended family members will play and the access they’ll be granted while your child is in each other’s charge.
  • Communicate actively with your ex about all aspects of your child’s development.
  • Realize that your child may test out certain situations and manipulate rules to get something they want.
  • Agree and promise to never try to sour each other’s relationship with your child. Further, forbid your children to speak disrespectfully about the other parent.
  • Despite how painful it may be, make sure that you stay informed and up-to-date on each other’s lives.
  • Commit to conducting yourself with emotional integrity.

At the end of the day, co-parenting is rarely easy. But if you set out with guidelines and goals while keeping your child the top priority, things will be smoother in the long run. Just remember that you child should never feel responsible, guilty or pressured by your split.