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Some important tips for minimizing conflict with your co-parent

When couples who are parents divorce, they never really completely end their relationship. They have to find a way to co-parent their children despite whatever residual issues they have from their marriage. Often the conflicts they had as partners morph into parenting conflicts.

If you're having difficulty co-parenting your children in a positive way with your ex, particularly in the early months of your separation and divorce, there are some important things to keep in mind that can help you refocus on what's best for your children, which should be your ultimate goal.

Remember that you don't always have to win

In co-parenting, reaching agreements that both of you can live with is more important than one of you getting his or her way. As difficult as it may be, work to listen to what your co-parent has to say and remember that the most important thing is your children's well-being.

Be careful with your words and tone

You and your co-parent likely know all of each other's triggers. Avoid saying things that you know will set off your ex. This is true whether you're communicating via text, email, by phone or in person. While written communication can sometimes help you avoid unnecessary arguments, you also risk having your words misunderstood. Find the type of communication that works best for you when dealing with issues involving your children.

Don't make assumptions

A challenge for many divorced couples in communicating with each other is assuming that the other person meant something negative by a particular comment. If you're not sure what your co-parent meant, ask for clarifications. Don't jump to conclusions that it was an insult or slight.

Put your past behind you

Focus on helping your children grow and thrive in their family structure. Don't continue to re-litigate past wrongs. This helps no one -- least of all your children. Put your energy into working on this new co-parenting relationship.

If you and your co-parent are having issues communicating that are impacting your children's well-being, it may be worthwhile to talk with your Rhode Island family law attorney about resources that can help you. If you believe that your parenting plan needs to be amended to minimize your interaction with your co-parent, at least for a time, for the good of your children, he or she can help you with that as well.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "7 Strategies to Overcome Conflict in Co-Parenting," accessed Aug. 24, 2017

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