Only Fools Refuse to Coparent
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As kids get older, coparenting becomes more important than ever
We all love to see our kids scream with excitement and laugh out loud. It’s one of the true joys of being a mom. But even more important, I believe every mom wants to help her children thrive and be the best they can be. We, as moms, are constantly offering direction, listening to our kids’ needs, teaching them right from wrong, and guiding them when they get into trouble or perhaps make bad choices.
Where am I going with this? I’m headed to the topic of coparenting and its incredible importance. Despite the challenge of getting along with your ex, despite your negative personal feelings for this person, and despite the fact that there are days you wish he or she would leave the planet and never return, communicating and working with your ex in raising your kids is not only necessary but also vital for their health and well-being. Furthermore, as kids get older (mine are now 13 and 15), coparenting becomes more important than ever! Think parties, vaping, alcohol, and school detentions.
If you are rolling your eyes at this point, thinking, She has no clue that my ex is impossible to talk to, I get it. I really do. Been there. Divorced for 10 years, I can remember times in my life when my ex and I refused to utter a word to each other because of issues that caused major fights.
But the thing is, when parents decide not to communicate because of anger, bitterness, and resentment toward each other, they are only doing a disservice to their children—big time—and are just plain fools! I am not passing judgment because I am guilty of being a fool in this regard, but over the years, what I’ve learned (and I think my ex also has learned) is the following:
1. Let go of the past. Don’t even discuss it. It no longer matters.
2. Focus all discussions on the kids. No need to delve into each other’s personal lives.
3. Bite your lip when you want to make a snide comment. Trust me.
4. Treat your partnership as a business, with the goal being the health and well-being of your mutual assets: the kids.
5. Be polite. Treat your ex with respect. He or she deserves that and so do you.
6. Pick your battles. Don’t be petty over the $25 you are owed; rather, focus on the things you really think will benefit the kids.
7. Try to see the good in your ex as far as being a parent. Remember that your kids love him or her, no one is perfect, and he or she really does love your kids.
As ESME’s Amy Rivers simply states in “The Three C’s of Coparenting”: “At the end of the day, the goal is to ensure that your kids have the best possible lives, free of unnecessary conflict and full of all the love and support their family can give them.”
Jackie Pilossoph, ESME’s Divorce Resource Guide, is the creator of Divorced Girl Smiling, a website that helps men and women facing divorce. She is also a weekly Huffington Post divorce blogger; the writer of a weekly column, “Love Essentially,” for the Chicago Tribune’s Pioneer Press; and a freelance corporate and business content writer. Pilossoph holds a master’s degree in journalism. She lives in Chicago with her two children. Oh, and she’s divorced.