Parents Need to Work Together, Even If They're Apart

Demeter Delune

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It started off great. You loved one another enough to bring a child into the world together. But somewhere along the way, something broke down, and you’re no longer together. Or, you were never together to begin with, but had a child together, anyway.

However things happened, you’re left dealing with one another as co-parents.

As with most things, there are great ways to accomplish this and raise loving, well-adjusted kids. There are also things you may do which almost guarantee you’re raising children who learn manipulation and taking sides is the only way to live.

Undermining your fellow co-parent is one of the worst ways you can enter this arrangement. Learn to put aside your personal feelings about this person, the person you brought a child into the world with, and parent, from a place of love, security, acceptance, and most of all, consistency.

Studies show, children who grow up in an arrangement where one parent constantly undermines the other learn to be manipulative. They’re being taught it’s okay to go against their parents’ wishes, because no may not always mean no.

Often, it’s the non-custodial parent who engages in undermining the most.

More often than not, it’s not intentional. The parent who gets less time with their child tends to want things to be perfect when their time together comes around. The custodial parent, spending the majority of time with the child, must act as disciplinarian in order to teach the child appropriate behavior, while the non-custodial parent just wants their child to enjoy their time with them.

Consistency is key, as well as communication. Arguing in front of your child is not the way to accomplish this. Talk ahead of time and explain to one another your expectations for your child and compromise until you can reach an agreed upon way to do things.

One of the worst things you can do in a situation such as this is undermine the other parent in front of your child. If one parent tells a child, “Son, you’re going to time-out for five minutes because you didn’t listen to my instructions”, the other parent needs to hold the child to this contract. Telling your child, “Oh no, it’s okay, you were just being a child. You don’t have to go to time-out, Daddy is being ridiculous”, serves no good purpose.

Statements such as this teach your child a couple of things. That you think the other parent is ridiculous, therefore not someone the child should listen to, and that actions don’t have consequences. They’re learning where they can get away with murder, so to speak, and how to play the parents against one another.

Each of you have something to offer to your child and by behaving in a negative manner, you’re depriving your child of a blossoming relationship with both parents. In a perfect world, even in broken families, children can grow up learning how to be successful, responsible, and that they need not manipulate people to have a relationship with them.

If you’re the parent being undermined, there are some things you can do. Continue to enforce your rules with the child and know that eventually, they will see what’s important. You’re trying. Sit down with your co-parent, when the child isn’t there, and talk about what you expect. If you still find yourself being undermined, do your best to remain consistent with your child and be civil about what’s happening with your co-parent.

It’s never okay to disparage the other parent in front of your child.

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever do, made more difficult when you’re not on the same page with your co-parent. The easiest thing to remember is everything you’re doing affects your child. Make sure it’s a positive mark you’re leaving.

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Relationship and Intimacy Coach who loves to bring folks good news and fun facts to help them brighten their day and inform.

Myrtle Beach, SC
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