3 Essential Coparenting Tips for Ending Competition

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Stop Competing With Your Ex

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It is possible to create a healthy coparenting relationship for the sake of your kids—but it may require some new thinking. Let's explore some of the old ways of viewing things, along with the subtle mental shifts that can help you create a more effective coparenting relationship, starting with competition. In order to parent well together, you'll need to stop competing with your ex—even in your mind. Not sure what I'm talking about here? Let's dig a little deeper ... 

Old mindset: "I'm the essential parent."

It's natural to be protective of your relationship with your children and the way you parent. However, when there are two of you actively involved in raising your kids, then there's really no room for thinking one of you is better than the other. 

New mindset: "Our children need both of us." 

Recognizing that you both have something of value to share with your children is an essential part of effective coparenting. In fact, there may be areas where your ex's strengths complement your own weaknesses. For example, maybe you don't have the patience to help your six-year-old build massive Lego sets, but your ex does. When you stop competing for who gets more time or who's more fun, you give your kids permission to benefit from what your ex has to offer—and that's a big first step toward collaborative coparenting.

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Collaborate With Your Ex as You Parent Together

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Another shift effective coparents have already made involves how you view the future. For many coparenting families, the difference between what lies behind them and what they see up ahead is dramatic.

Old mindset: "I'm doing this alone."

Unfortunately, many single moms and dads have no choice but to do it all alone—because the other parent either isn't around or isn't involved. But if you're fortunate enough to have a fellow coparent who's present in your kids' lives and capable enough to share the parenting load, then it's time to change the old "I'm on my own" mindset. 

New mindset: "We'll both be involved."

Sometimes it starts with a change so small you barely notice it—like not being surprised anymore that your ex is sticking to your agreed upon parenting schedule. Keep in mind, too, that people often rise to our expectations. So merely expecting your ex to be true to his (or her) word might help bring that expectation to fruition.

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Be Generous With Your Parenting Time

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Yet another shift effective coparents have made relates to how they view parenting time. Once a commodity that was measured to the quarter-hour, they've learned to be much more flexible.

Old mindset: "There's his time, and there's my time."

New mindset: "Sometimes our brackets of time overlap" or "I'm not even keeping track anymore." 

For many single moms and dads, the thought of no longer labeling parenting time as "his" and "hers" is unimaginable. But the parents who've developed the most satisfying working relationships report that keeping track isn't a big deal anymore. This evolution starts small, though, with little compromises like swapping schedules and offering up a date here and there when you know there's an important event coming up (like your ex mother-in-law's birthday.) What's most surprising for many is that once they start being generous with their parenting time, their ex begins to do the same. It's not a strategy that works for everyone, but it's worth giving it a try if you're looking to build a more effective coparenting relationship.