Co-parenting is a marvelous concept in theory: you as the dad and your ex-wife as the mother continue to provide loving support for your children. You accomplish this at different times and (usually) in different homes. Co-parenting means nearly equal responsibilities, so even if one parent is legally the physical custodian of your kids, you both parent your kids, keeping them at the center of any meaningful contact you have with each other as adults. Inevitably, though, being human, you and your wife will face co-parenting problems. Here are some of common, soluble challenges.

She’s Talking Smack about You to Your Children

Your little minions return from the front lines to deliver their scouting report: while they are with her, your ex-wife is bad-mouthing you in front of your own children. A couple of major flags are buried in that sentence.

Your children are not:

  • Your minions
  • Your spies responsible for delivering scouting reports
  • Expected to do your bidding while in their mother’s company

Your ex-wife is not:

  • The enemy
  • A child to be supervised or monitored
  • Supposed to be openly disdaining you in front of your children

So, what to do? Love To Know says to get some time away from the children and to confront your wife as soon as possible by telephone or text/email, but (taking a tip offered by many a school teacher), do not assume your child is an accurate reporter.

You were not present; do not assume that what your kids say happened, actually happened. Consider your two options:

“So when Debbie and Danny came back, Debbie told me you called me a witless, silverback gorilla with a sense of style last seen in a circus. Never say anything about my intelligence, age, or fashion sense again. If you do, there’ll be big trouble.”

“Hi, Darla, when Debbie and Danny came back to me, one of them said the oddest thing and I just wanted to check what really happened. Could you have said something that they heard as me being a ‘witless, silverback gorilla’ with no sense of fashion?

Hear the difference? Do not attribute the comment to a particular child. Do not accuse your wife of the actual statement. Give her the benefit of the doubt that she said something the kids misheard.

Sure, she can use “the kids misunderstood” as an out to avoid an argument, but she may also realize how badly she sounded and how reasonable you sound. The problem may not extinguish the first time you talk to her, but it will lessen.

You and Your Ex-Wife Do Not Get Along

You began as a happily married couple and now have ended that marriage. Clearly you did not get along on several levels, but accepting that can be challenging, say experts at Live About. To counter the constant friction, you need to work at it consciously:

  • Be polite
  • Be consistent
  • Show restraint
  • Reassure your ex-spouse that she is still part of your children’s lives — This may seem obvious, says Live About, but constantly affirming this will smooth many a ruffled feather

Perhaps the most important tip Live About has to offer is to ask your ex-wife’s opinion. After a strained separation and perhaps bitter divorce, consider how flattered and honored she will feel when you ask her if she thinks your little Debbie will prefer Krispy Kremes or Little Debbies for a rare junk-food snack for the Dad and Debbie Redbox rental marathon.

You Say Blue and She Says White

That old internet argument about the perceived color of a dress was a silly distraction, but it does highlight how our perceptions can lead to open disagreements. Everything is seen in context, including innocent remarks picked up and repeated by our children.

You and your ex-wife do not have to agree with each other about … well, pretty much everything … in order to be co-parents. The operative word is parent, as in you both acknowledge the children who are at the center of your new relationship.

If she is registered as an Independent and you are a lifelong Democrat, that political divide seldom affects whether you give your children Coco Puffs or Granola. Focus on the areas you can agree on, that are really centered on your children.

Avoid being sucked into pointless arguments that are really just fuel for her anger, rather than real philosophical differences about raising your children.

Plenty of other co-parenting issues will arise, but each has a solution. You both have to be willing to work for what is best for your children.

Reach Out to the Attorneys for Men

When you call The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184 or contact us online, we will strive to do two things: preserve and defend your rights as a Virginia man, and answer every question you have about child custody, co-parenting, separation, and divorce. We will express no opinion about the white dress with gold fringe, which everyone knows is really a blue dress with black fringe. Or maybe it’s not. (Yes, it is.) [Nope] {Sure is!} See? It never ends.