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    Parents who are co-parenting often comment that their children don’t want to go and stay with one of the parents. If you are co-parenting, you probably agree that it can be very challenging. Whether you generally get along with your child’s other parent or not, there are always issues that arise and must be smoothed out. When your child chooses the other parent, doesn't want to see the other parent, or you are feeling defeated and discouraged, check out these crucial tips..

    Here are 6 tips to make co-parenting work for everyone!

    1.     Don’t Blame Your Child.

    Growing up is filled with challenges and even when a child is in a family with both natural parents, every family has disagreements. It is really helpful to put yourself in your child’s shoes and don’t blame your child for acting like one. You may not fully understand the struggles your child is facing, after all you can never really know what they are thinking, so try to be mindful not to jump to conclusions or judge them too harshly if they are unsettled about the situation..

    2.     Don’t Blame Yourself.

    On the flip side, don’t blame yourself. If your child doesn’t want to see you for a time, it hurts, and you may be tempted to feel like the worst parent. You may begin to believe any accusations you have heard thrown at you. Keep your own perspective and choose to believe the truths you know about yourself. You know you love your child and that you are doing your best.  

    3.     Take Responsibility.

    Although you should avoid blaming yourself, there is often a truth we can learn through every tough situation like this. Do you feel that you may have been too harsh with your child? Have you been running down your child’s other parent in front of your child, and made a good cop, bad cop situation, or have you distanced yourself and avoid the stress it is causing you? Take care not to be overrun with guilt, but learn whatever you can to grow, and perhaps mend the broken relationship you have with your child.

    4.     Co-Parent Respectfully.

    Although you may feel betrayed and probably want to blame your ex, you must continue to co-parent respectfully and in the most civil way you possibly can. Remember that your ex is still a parent to your child and try to see their side of the situation. Even if you cannot find any common ground, choose to be polite and courteous at the very least and be the one who set’s the good example.

    5.     Love Unconditionally.

    Whether your child has chosen to live with their other parent, or simply sides with the other parent on every possible issue, continue to love your child unconditionally. Forgive every betrayal and keep your door open to your child. Let them know that you will always be there for them, no matter what decisions they make or hurtful things they say to you. In this way, you are being a positive role model, as well as leaving the door open for a future relationship with your child.  Make a continuous effort to connect with your child and show them unconditional love.  Co-parenting is not easy, and it becomes especially complicated when your child has chosen one parent over the other.  Although you might feel like you are being swallowed up in the pain of it all, don’t lose your footing. Keep focused on these tips and handle yourself with grace and dignity. Let your child know you will be there for them when he or she chooses to return to you.

    6.     Be encouraging.

    Your children need to know that you are ok if they go and stay with their other parent. Remember they may have been witness to a lot of stress, anger and upset before you separated. Children can feel torn and that they have to be loyal to one parent in the situation, so encourage them to do what it best for them to have a healthy loving relationship with both their parents.

    What do you think will help you as a co-parent?

    • Do you blame your children in any way for making things difficult with your co-parenting?  If so how?
    • Do you blame yourself or feel guilty about the situation you are in?  If so, what can you say to yourself so that you feel better?
    • Do you take full responsibility for the part you are playing?
    • In what way might you be disrespectful to yourself or your ex and how can you change this?
    • Do you love your children unconditionally and not withdraw affection when things are hard?  If so how?
    • Think of 3 positive ways you will encourage your children to have a great relationship with their other parent?

     

    Do you do any of the following? 

    • Make yourself the victim?
    • Distance yourself from your child to avoid the pain?
    • Manipulate the situation so your child doesn’t want to go to their other parent?
    • Keep your child away from their other parent?
    • Do you make things difficult by not communicating well with your ex?
    • Do you act contemptuously to your ex, by putting them down and arguing with them? 

     

    If you do any of these and the many more negative things that are not helping the situation, STOP and find better ways to handle this long-term situation to make it work for everyone! You will be glad you did.

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