Co-parenting with an ex

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Co-parenting can be hard, especially if the relationship didn’t end well like in the case of DJ Zinhle and AKA. Most find it difficult to move in the same direction for the sake of their child/ren.

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We speak to a relationship expert, Stacey Lewis from The Divorce Source, on how to co-parent regardless the situation and what you feel towards the other person.

How do I co-parent with my ex when we don’t get along?

  1. Remember that even though there may be acrimony between you and your ex-partner, you are still both parents and your focus needs to be on the children.

  1. Keep the relationship as business-like as possible and restrict conversation subjects to the children only.

  1. If the relationship is a really difficult one, you may want to correspond via email. This can be useful as there is a record of all conversations. It can also have a down side and be tricky at times, as tonality is often lost in messaging and it can lead to misunderstandings.

  1. If you are unable to agree on an issue, a mediator is often useful. Check in with each other on a regular basis in order to discuss relevant issues relating to your child or children.

What if I am still bitter about the break up?

Remember that your child is composed 50% of you and your ex. Even if he’s rude or horrible to you and you’re still dealing with feelings of resentment, you need to remember that he’s still the father of your child. By dishonouring him, you are indirectly dishonouring your child. Although it can be a difficult time, try not to expose your child to your feelings of resentment towards your ex. Even if the two of you don’t get along, you should still encourage a healthy relationship between your child and his/her father.  Remember your child will grow up and when he or she looks back, your child will be grateful to you for giving him/her a chance to have a relationship with their father.

When there’s another woman involved?

You don’t have to befriend your ex’s new partner, but it’s advisable to have a good working relationship. If the other woman lives with your ex, it’s wise to be in touch with her about things that would affect your child. Perhaps send her a text or an email thanking her for looking after your child for the weekend. You could even send her a list of your child’s favourite foods or give her a heads up if your child is sick and needs certain medicines.

Would getting to know each other’s new partners help in co-parenting?

I think this is very case-specific. More important than getting to know your ex spouse’s partner is showing them respect. It’s not necessary to form a friendship or have a deep relationship – it is sufficient to be courteous towards them and to be friendly and polite.

Celeb parents like AKA and Zinhle and Chris Brown and Nia have taken to social media to air their private lives. How does this affect things?

As I have mentioned, your children are 50% composed of your ex. Any insult to him is indirectly an insult towards them. It’s healthy and important that they form a positive relationship with their father, unless there’s an abuse situation. By you openly insulting and rejecting your children’s father, they begin to see this as a rejection of themselves, even if this is at a subconscious level. This may play out in behavioural problems, anxiety, insecurity and aggression in your child. The truth is, if it was a bad break-up, the best “revenge” is your own happiness.

Stacey Lewis is from The Divorce Source and for more information to please visit www.thedivorcesource.co.za

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