Co-Parenting with Your Ex

Dealing with an ex when you have children together can be difficult, especially when negative emotions are involved or you feel a desire to never see your former flame again. Unfortunately, being a parent means putting your child's best interests above your own, and that means finding a way to form an amicable relationship with your ex as co-parents. Dr. Phil has advice for beginning this new relationship with your ex:

Embracing the dos and don'ts helps considerably to normalize your children's lives. The key is for you and your ex to take the high road and truly make sacrifices for your children. It isn't only self-indulgent, but self-destructive for you to thrust your children in the middle of emotional crossfire. What's more, they simply don't want to hear it. I've talked to so many children in divorced homes who tell me they are so sick to death of listening to their parents complain and whine about each other that they could just scream. So don't be a tedious bore. You wanted children, and now you have them. The fact that your relationship didn't work out is unfortunate, but it's not their fault.

If your ex simply won't get in the game and adhere to the guidelines I've set forth, you must do so anyway. The only person you control is you. Let me appeal to your greed by saying that, if you do take the high road, in the long run your children will admire you for it. The day will come when they'll look back and say, "My mother [or father] behaved with such class, dignity and respect that I can see how much he or she loved me and wanted peace and tranquility in my life. I'm so grateful for that gift. I only wish my other parent had been so selfless."

As hard as it may be, sit down with your ex and make a commitment to set boundaries about your new relationship as co-parents.

Don'ts:

There are two important rules concerning children during times of crisis and instability in your family:

1. Do not burden your children with situations they cannot control. Children should not bear such a responsibility. It will promote feelings of helplessness and insecurity, causing them to question their own strengths and abilities.

2. Do not ask your children to deal with adult issues. Children are not equipped to understand adult problems. Their focus should be on navigating the various child development stages they go through.

Dos:

Focus your efforts on what your children need most during this difficult time: acceptance, assurance of safety, freedom from guilt or blame for their parents' break up, structure, a stable parent who has the strength to conduct business and the ability to just be a kid.

For more, read Post-Divorce Parenting Mistakes and Strategies or pick up your copy of Family First: Your Step-by-Step Plan for Creating a Phenomenal Family.