Your divorce is final and you negotiated a child custody agreement with which you and your ex-spouse are satisfied. You are still in the early stages of implementing your parenting plan, and you have come to the realization that you and the other parent have some work to do before you can maximize your co-parenting relationship.

Perhaps you learned some valuable lessons through mediation or collaborative divorce about cooperation and compromise, but the feelings that led to the demise of your marriage remain. In order to move past them, you may need to build a new relationship with the other parent, and you need to trust each other again as well.

Creating a new relationship as co-parents

Below are some tips that may help you create a co-parenting relationship that allows you to be the best parents possible to your children:

  • You could acknowledge the importance of having him or her in your children’s lives. Even if the other parent wasn’t a good spouse to you, that does not preclude being a good parent to your children.
  • If you make a promise to the other parent, keep it. If he or she can trust you to follow through on your word, it may soften some of the ill feelings between the two of you.
  • Your children aren’t the only ones who need consistency. The more consistent the two of you are with each other, the easier it will be to trust.
  • Don’t give up trying to make the co-parenting relationship work. You don’t have to be best friends, but having an amicable relationship as parents is vital to making your situation work.
  • You should each have the freedom to express your opinion. This doesn’t mean criticizing a parenting style (unless it harms the children).
  • On the other hand, ask the other parent for his or her opinion on something related to the children, especially if you aren’t sure how to proceed. One of the joys of co-parenting is that you aren’t doing it alone.
  • If you make a mistake, apologize. You have nothing to lose by taking responsibility for your mistakes, and it may help build trust between the two of you.
  • Refrain from overreacting or acting out. If you have a disagreement with your ex, look to your parenting plan for the method by which the two of you agreed to resolve disputes.

You aren’t going for perfection here. Instead, you are attempting to build a new relationship as parents, not as a married couple. That may seem counterintuitive, but many Pennsylvania couples before you have done it. Discuss the vision that each of you has for your future as you continue to raise your children together. You may be surprised to discover that your ex-spouse also wants peace and an amicable co-parenting relationship.