Parenting is known as the hardest job in the world, and that’s when both parents are under one roof. After a divorce or separation, parenting (or “co-parenting”) can be even more challenging. You’ll go through ups and downs, and some days will be more challenging than others. Psychologist Dr. Peggy Kruger Tietz recently shared some advice about what to do when it’s not going as well as you’d hoped, and we thought we’d share that here:
1. Accept where you are. You aren’t in an ideal situation, and it’s silly and unhelpful to deny that. Don’t get caught up in the “it isn’t far” game. It will only hinder your progress. You’re right- co-parenting is tough. But accept the fact that you’ll have it harder than some parents, and be willing to put in the work.
2. Trust yourself. If your ex is a less-than-perfect parent, that’s not something you can control. You can’t make up for that. You’re already trying to be the best parent that you can be (right…?) so doing more won’t make up for what your ex isn’t doing. Trust that you’re doing your best and know that every parent makes mistakes along the way.
3. Create a support system. Make sure that you have people in your life who know your situation and generally give good advice. It can be a therapist or, if that doesn’t seem necessary, count on a good friend or family member to talk to. You need to strengthen yourself and have your own support if you’re going to support your children.
4. Be flexible. Dealing with your ex may not be fun and it won’t be easy, but the more flexible you are, the more flexible he/she will most likely be. Not being willing to change plans or work things out with him/her will only make it harder on both of you. Don’t cause yourself unnecessary headaches.
5. Different houses have different rules. Your kids might “hate” you in that moment because you’re more strict than your ex, but they’ll understand one day. Do what you think is best and let you ex do what he/she thinks is best. (Within limitations, of course…)
Be the best parent you can be and realize that co-parenting takes a little extra effort. But it’s nothing that you can’t handle.