Raising a child with an ex is not for the faint of heart.
It is hard. There can be disagreements. Unexpected snags. Complicated challenges. And lots of frustration.
And yet, having an involved father and mother means your child is getting a loving relationship with two parents, which boosts self esteem, prevents stress and depression, provides a sense of security, and even helps your child succeed in school and in their relationships later in life.
With those benefits in mind, you’ve chosen to give co-parenting a shot.
That doesn’t make it any easier though.
There are still those moments of anger, fear, sadness, and confusion.
So, if you’ve committed to raising your child with your ex involved - how can you resolve those arguments? How can you make this situation - not just beneficial for your child - but a positive experience for you, too?
7 Ways to Come to Real Resolutions With Your Ex
Let’s take a look at some real ways you can resolve arguments, and come to a more effective working relationship with your ex.
Take a Step Back
If you feel yourself becoming heated or stressed during a conversation, then politely tell your ex you want to come back to the topic again later. Reapproaching a conversation when you are not stressed or angry will help you to find common ground.
Use it as Information
When you and your ex disagree, remember to take your ex’s perspective, feelings, emotions, and words as information. Look at that information objectively, and allow it to help you make informed conversations moving forward.
Parenting with your ex is about compromise, finding middle ground, and sometimes it’s actually about doing things a little differently in each of your homes. It’s unlikely that you’ll agree about everything, and being okay with not seeing eye to eye will help you avoid stress when disagreements do occur.
Use “I” Statements
Starting sentences with “I” keeps the conversation neutral, without putting your ex on the defensive. Start your sentences with “I”. Try saying, “I’m concerned about Willie’s performance in school,” instead of “you never do homework with Willie.”
Set the stage for thoughtful, compassionate listening. Listening is the only way you will gain information on the situation, and by listening to your ex, he is more likely to listen to you in return.
Speak with your ex as though you’re conducting a business transaction. Be polite, professional, and straight-to-the-point. Hold yourself to the same standards as you would at your job, and work towards your goals with the same focus and attention.
Stick With It, You’re Doing Great!
Remember, communicating with your ex isn’t necessarily going to be easy, but give yourself the credit you deserve. You are working hard, and you’re making great progress.
With practice, your communication style will shift and change, and you will be able to move forward in leaps and bounds.
Summary of Parts II and III: Part two of this article looks at ways to find resources that help you change your communication style, and part three talks about the benefits of changing your focus.