Updated: Feb 10, 2021
Co-parenting not going well? One of the best places to start is with an examination of your mindset.
Never underestimate the power of your thoughts. Your thoughts affect your perception which in turn impacts your interpretation of your co parent’s motives and behaviours. Your interpretation of your co-parent’s conduct will influence how you respond to situations, particularly those that you do not like.
Mindset is a driving force that can either move you toward cooperation, flexibility, reasoned communication, give and take, graciousness, or put you on the road to head-butting and destructive conflict.
No one wins when parents are in conflict, especially the children.
Co-parenting can be frustrating at the best of times. Ironically, the same mindset that parents use to successfully navigate parenting decisions and cooperation in intact families is what is needed to co-parent peacefully after the relationship ends.
Consider observing what is running through your head the next time your co-parent asks for a short notice change to the schedule, is late for an exchange, forgets to send the hockey equipment, doesn’t notify you the kids went to the dentist and on and on…
Here are some tips to ensure your mindset is working for peaceful co-parenting, not against it.
Take a moment. Ask yourself: Does this require immediate action? You have time to calm and collect yourself and be responsive, not reactive.
Are you making assumptions about the other parent’s motives, requests or actions? Assumptions are usually traps.
Don’t keep score. Check that you are not in the business of trying to win every battle.
Remind yourself that letting it go is a viable and useful option. Save your energy for the bigger issues.
Stay in the moment. Do a check to see if you are being unduly influenced by conflicts in the past. Double check that hurt and anger are not in the driver's seat.
Ask yourself: How your actions will affect your child?
Remind yourself that dignity is your friend and respond accordingly.
Be sure you are not taking your co-parent’s requests or actions personally.
As yourself the famous question: Is this the hill you want to die on? It will rarely fail you.
Question your motives. Are you trying to prove a point? Are you thinking it’s important that the other parent see you, as right?
Check your expectations. Are they realistic? Are they serving to increase irritation and frustration?
Intentional awareness of your mindset will serve you well and can go a long way toward improving or maintaining a peaceful co-parenting dynamic.
Glenda Lux, M.A., R. Psych.