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Co-Parenting: 5 Steps to Avoiding Conflict Escalation
We all want our children to have the best in life. But when the best in life has multiple definitions and there are two opposing parental opinions as to which is better, what do you do? When there is no right or wrong in a situation, just different options, how do you navigate those murky waters? Learn some more about co-parenting: 5 steps to avoiding conflict escalation.
Step 1: Consider Your Child’s Needs vs Wants First
Remember that you are advocating on behalf of another person and their opinion may differ from yours. However, when asking your child what they would like to do, remember that children want to please their parents, so they may say something different to you and to your co-parent. Furthermore, if your argument is about extra-curricular activities, for example, remember that perhaps your child needs some downtime more than they need to join another soccer league or learn a second instrument. After-school enrichment is important, but an overly packed schedule can stress out your child unnecessarily. Bottom line: you may be arguing two options when in fact there is a third option that would be best.
Step 2: Respect Boundaries
In co-parenting boundaries must be made and respected. Remember that both parents want to spend quality time with their child. For example, if you are time sharing it is important for each parent to respect that time. It is inappropriate of you to make demands of their time, just as it is inappropriate of them to make demands of your time. Furthermore, boundaries must be placed and respected around introducing new people to the child for their own good.
Step 3: Refrain from Judgment
It is easy and very tempting to pass judgment on things that differ from our personal perspectives. However, this judgment will only create resentment and disrespect which in turn will make communication strained and difficult. Just because we do something differently than they do does not make them wrong. Keep an open mind and things will run much more smoothly.
Step 4: Be Flexible
Take a step back before things start to get intense and truly consider the issue. If your co-parent is requesting something that will benefit your child and does not affect your timesharing your best option is to simply let it happen. If something will impact your timesharing, consider if it is worth it. Will your child be enriched by the experience? Accommodating your co-parent now can help for when you want to ask for something later. Consider the options, be flexible, and stay fair.
Step 5: Never Discuss Money In Front of Your Child
Do not make the mistake of discussing money where your child can hear you. Specifically it is inappropriate to tell a child that one of their parents cannot afford to pay for something and it is hurtful to mention that their parent will not pay for something. Your child does not need to know who is paying for what. Money talk can cause undue stress and guilt in your child. Keep the financial discussion between the adults.