8 Effective Ways To Set Healthy Co-Parenting Boundaries

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Raising a child together is a huge task for any couple, and the task becomes even more difficult when you’re a divorced couple or a couple that isn’t together anymore.

In such cases, the concept of “co-parenting” comes into being. Co-parenting refers to a situation where two people who aren’t in a relationship or marriage raise a child together.

The most important element in a co-parenting situation is the happiness and well-being of your child. However, co-parenting isn’t always a smooth sailing situation. You could be dealing with an ex who makes things difficult for you, or perhaps your current partner doesn’t get along with your ex.

At times, it also happens that a child gets severely affected by how the two people handle their co-parenting situation. In order to maintain peace and decorum, it’s vital to set co-parenting boundaries.

Are you wondering what co-parenting boundaries are or how you can set them? Well, we’re here to shed light on this very topic.

In this article, we will be diving deep into the many different aspects of co-parenting, including how to set healthy co-parenting boundaries, how to know when the co-parenting situation is working and when it’s not, what the benefits of these boundaries are, and so on.

What are the Different Types of Co-Parenting?

What are the Different Types of Co-Parenting?

While the mature and sensible thing to do in co-parenting is to promise that the parents will try to be civil for the sake of the child, not everyone keeps that promise or even attempts to do so.

If you’re lucky, you will get to co-parent with someone who understands your views and respects your space, but not everyone is fortunate enough to experience that. This is why there are different kinds of co-parenting that exist. Some of them are as follows:

1. High Conflict Co-Parenting

High Conflict Co-Parenting

The high-conflict type is the worst co-parenting situation one can be in. This is when the two exes communicate with one another either through family members or lawyers.

When they talk to each other, it usually ends up in a violent argument where accusations are thrown around and past trauma is brought up. Naturally, this is the least favorable kind of co-parenting, and the kids get extremely harmed mentally in these cases.

2. Parallel Co-Parenting

Parallel co-parenting is something many ex-couples often resort to. This is when the parents are not exactly fond of each other but tolerate each other enough to co-parent. It usually happens that high conflict co-parenting transforms to parallel co-parenting for some people down the line.

In parallel co-parenting, the parents stick to rigid guidelines and rules. They don’t discuss emotions and prefer to keep their exchanges formal, using an almost businesslike tone.

When they aren’t discussing co-parenting, they stay out of each other’s lives. In this type of co-parenting, the communication between the two individuals often ends up taking place through the kids.

3. Collaborative and Cooperative Co-Parenting

Collaborative and Cooperative Co-Parenting

The collaborative and cooperative type of co-parenting is the ideal, almost utopic situation that some co-parents can only dream of.

This is when the two people involved in the situation respect one another, have very few or no conflicts, communicate honestly and openly, and collaborate in a healthy manner.

Two people truly need to be on the same page for this situation to work, and if one of the individuals involved is bitter about the past, this type of co-parenting indeed becomes immensely difficult. However, parents can hope to reach this stage at some point in the future.

Importance of Setting Co-Parenting Boundaries

Importance of Setting Co-Parenting Boundaries

Bringing up a child is already a huge responsibility. While it’s difficult to manage it while staying under one roof, the hurdles amplify when a couple is separated or divorced. However, not every co-parenting situation needs to be filled with bumps.

If you keep the happiness of your child in mind and hope to make their life as smooth as possible, it’s easier to come up with a substantial co-parenting agreement that will benefit both parties and also allow you to nurture a good bond with your kid.

When your child sees their parents respecting one another and treating each other with kindness, it will also positively impact the relationships they have in the future.

By establishing co-parenting boundaries and communicating openly from the beginning, you can put your terms on the table and negotiate till you reach a middle ground. Therefore, there will be fewer conflicts along the way, and it will also lessen the possibility of misunderstandings.

These boundaries help in reducing the levels of stress and anxiety you might be facing and also aid in maintaining your sense of self-worth.

By harboring less resentment and anger towards your ex, you can let go of the past eventually and also feel at ease about the positive level of control shared by you both in your co-parenting scenario.

What Makes Co-Parenting Tough?

Co-parenting can become tough when there is a lack of rules in healthy co-parenting boundaries. When the two people who are co-parenting their child fail to set up a proper agreement regarding the rules to follow, things can go haywire.

Even the smallest of details, such as where the child spends a holiday or what their bedtime should be, end up developing into an argument.

The cultivation of distrust is another element to be wary of. This is when your ex tries to spy on you through your child or attempts to learn about your personal life by using deceitful means.

Some people make it difficult for you to co-parent when they don’t communicate efficiently. Your ex doesn’t have to be one of your favorite people, but they must be approachable enough to discuss the well-being of your child.

When you’re co-parenting, you cannot make a decision all by yourself without informing your ex. Decisions should be made and agreed upon together, and a failure to compromise can only lead to further issues.

What are the Golden Rules of Co-Parenting?

What are the Golden Rules of Co-Parenting?

Rules and regulations exist for a reason. They help in giving a proper structure to the topic at hand, ensure that everything keeps functioning smoothly, and aid in reducing conflicts. The same holds true for co-parenting as well.

With proper rules in place, it eventually becomes easier for two exes to manage various situations competently. So, do you wish to know about the golden rules of co-parenting? Here they are:

  • Keep the avenues of communication open. Whether it’s through texts, emails, letters, or in-person conversations, see to it that you can reach out to one another to exchange information, schedules, and so on.
  • Maintain the rules consistently. Whether the child is staying with one parent or the other, the rules should remain the same and shouldn’t be changed without both parties agreement.
  • Set guidelines and boundaries from the very beginning so that there is no confusion going forward. This works well for the children, too.
  • Don’t encourage your child to talk poorly about your ex. No matter what kind of feelings you have towards them, your child should never harbor any negative emotions towards one of their parents.
  • Discuss how you will be dealing with each other’s families and the roles every family member will be playing in the life of your child.
  • Remember that it’s okay to have traditional parent time with your child where you don’t have to participate in fun activities. After all, children need to know what basic family life feels like.
  • Exchange information with one another without getting your child involved. If you need to update your ex about something, do it yourself instead of going through various channels.

Ways to Set Healthy Co-Parenting Boundaries

Ways to Set Healthy Co-Parenting Boundaries

The topic of boundaries in general, can be an aggravating debate for some. One might wonder why boundaries are required in any relationship, but the truth is that the presence of boundaries makes sure that everyone feels respected and seen.

Similarly, co-parenting becomes a bit simpler when there are boundaries involved. These boundaries are not only beneficial to the exes who are raising a kid together, but they also work well for the child.

So, what are the ways in which you can set healthy co-parenting boundaries? Read on to find out:

1. Keep the Communication Formal and Calm

Keep the Communication Formal and Calm

Communication is key when it comes to co-parenting, and it’s important to decide the tone of communication the two of you want to use with one another. The best combination to go for is calm and formal.

You know the way colleagues interact with one another by being calm, patient, and formal? That’s the mixture you should go for. Discuss the schedules beforehand and communicate any changes immediately without any delays so as to prevent conflict.

When communicating anything to your ex, remember to also communicate about any factors regarding your child’s behavior that could be worrisome.

For example, if you see your kid lashing out or behaving strangely, it’s wise to discuss it and decide how to deal with the situation effectively.

2. Never Engage in Conflict in Front of Your Child

Never Engage in Conflict in Front of Your Child

Speaking of conflict, make sure never to fight in front of your child. While some situations might be unavoidable, see to it that you don’t raise your voices against one another in the presence of your child.

Your child should never have to see things get ugly between you and your ex. No matter what kind of feelings you are harboring for your ex at the moment, keep your child away from any type of negativity.

Neither use your child as a shield nor as a spy to scoop out information about your ex. It’s very important for a kid to have a positive image of both their parents. Therefore, never speak in a foul manner about your ex-partner when your child is around.

If kids see their parents bickering all the time, it can have an extremely negative impact on their mental and emotional health.

3. Be Civil and Respectful

Be Civil and Respectful

While some people go for a business-like approach to co-parenting, others choose to be more collaborative. When you pick the latter, it usually means that your level of co-parenting has that calm quality that so many people desire.

Being respectful and civil with your ex is vital, not only because they deserve it for treating you right but also because your behavior influences your child in multiple ways.

Respect your ex’s time, their decisions, and their requests, and even if you have opposing views, be sure to discuss them in a composed manner instead of turning them into an argument.

4. Remain Consistent

One of the central ways to set healthy boundaries is to remain consistent. This can be done when the two people who have decided to co-parent are mature individuals who realize that they each have their own lives to live and responsibilities to fulfill.

You both have your own professional commitments to live up to and personal engagements to look after. Amidst all this, co-parenting shouldn’t become an added burden.

For example, don’t make sudden announcements that put your ex in a weird position. This could entail throwing a fit about having your child for Christmas, showing up unannounced at your ex’s home, making changes to your child’s routine without informing your ex, and so on.

5. Maintain Honesty with Your Current Partner

If you’re currently dating someone, try to discuss your co-parenting status with them as soon as possible. After all, you wouldn’t want to get too emotionally attached just to have to break up with them over this bit later on.

Let them know that your child is your main priority, and if they aren’t okay with that sentiment or about your ex being in your life for co-parenting purposes, then they should probably leave right away.

If your current partner is okay with all these details, then you know you have a keeper. Once you’re serious about them, you can introduce them to your child and eventually to your ex as well, since it’s also important for them to have a civil equation.

6. Decide How to Deal with Family Members

Decide How to Deal with Family Members

When a marriage ends, there are a lot of people who get affected, and this includes your respective families. However, if you didn’t let them dictate the rules of your marriage, you shouldn’t allow them to control the rules of your co-parenting boundaries either.

Discuss with your partner as to how involved you want your family members to be in your child’s life. Make sure never to allow them to manipulate you against your ex or even speak about them in a mean and rude manner when your child is around.

Set down rules as to how much access they should have to your child and their life.

7. Notify Your Caregivers Beforehand

There are many people outside of your family who will become a part of your child’s daily activities, and this includes their teachers, babysitters, and caregivers.

Since they will be interacting with your child quite a lot, it’s wise to inform them about your co-parenting situation and the dynamic you share with your ex. This will help them have a clearer picture, thereby allowing them to know how to moderate their conversations with your kid regarding this topic.

8. Acknowledge Your Ex’s Role and Contribution

Co-parenting can only work when both the parents are equally involved and committed to making it succeed. This includes appreciating the contributions of your ex in your child’s life.

Appreciate their hard work and efforts, and let them know that you draw inspiration from them. When one of you knows that the other is taking notes on your behavior, it automatically motivates you to do better.

When you acknowledge each other’s significance in your child’s life, maintaining the co-parenting boundaries seems worthwhile.

What to Avoid in Co-Parenting

What to Avoid in Co-Parenting

While it’s essential to know what to do in co-parenting, it’s also equally crucial to know what to avoid. Being aware of both sides of the coin helps you remain sane and keep your mental health intact.

If you’re new to co-parenting, you might find it all very challenging and overwhelming, which is an absolutely normal human reaction. However, by knowing what not to do in co-parenting, you can eventually adapt to the situation.

The following are some of the things to avoid when you’re co-parenting:

  • Don’t burden your kid with the aftermath of your failed relationship. They are too young to bear that cross, and it’s not their responsibility to keep things smooth between you and your ex. Don’t use your kid to find out details about your ex, and be sure to never badmouth your ex in front of your kid.
  • If you hear something negative about your ex, don’t immediately jump to conclusions. Instead, have a healthy discussion with them to clear up any misunderstandings that might exist.
  • Do not attempt to overcompensate by trying to be the ‘fun parent’. It isn’t a competition. Instead, be your natural self and try to create a normal home environment for your child.
  • Don’t give in to the parental guilt that often comes along due to divorce or separation. Just because you went through a failed relationship doesn’t mean you agree to your child’s every whim or encourage their tantrums.
  • There are rules followed in every household, and maintaining those rules becomes even more important in a co-parenting situation. Therefore, never try to go extra lenient with your kid just to win some brownie points.

Signs of Healthy Co-Parenting

Signs of Healthy Co-Parenting

A lot of work is involved in co-parenting. While some exes are on good terms from the very beginning, others take a while or even years to reach a place of amiability.

No matter how long it takes for you to develop a healthy co-parenting bond, it’s vital to acknowledge it to see which areas you can improve on. Let’s take a look at the signs of a healthy co-parenting equation:

  1. You don’t manipulate your child or talk negatively about your ex in front of them. You realize that your child needs to have a good bond with both their parents, and you encourage that despite whatever your personal feelings may be.
  2. There are clear boundaries in place along with a pre-determined schedule. When both parties agree to the same terms, it leads to a peaceful co-parenting situation.
  3. Despite a routine that exists, there could be times when you might have to make a few modifications or be more flexible. If both of you give each other the space to do so, then it’s a positive sign of a healthy co-parenting bond.
  4. You communicate with each other regarding any recent changes or developments instead of finding out from other people.
  5. Your child sees you two getting along well. This is one of the most imperative things in co-parenting for a child. They see their parents treating each other with kindness and respect, thereby setting a wonderful example for them.
  6. The two of you can be around each other and attend family functions without a discussion turning into an argument or debate.
  7. You recognize the importance of each other’s role in your child’s life and acknowledge your respective contributions.

Signs of Unhealthy Co-Parenting

Signs of Unhealthy Co-Parenting

Co-parenting is all about coordination and cooperation. Therefore, if you have to co-parent with a difficult person, things can become quite hellish.

The lack of teamwork takes a toll on an individual’s mental health and affects the child as well. Dealing with manipulative and toxic exes is an excruciating task, which is why it’s wise to know the signs of an unhealthy co-parenting dynamic. A couple of those signs include:

  1. They attempt to influence your child against you. This happens if they constantly keep badmouthing you in front of them and making up lies about you. By isolating you from your kid, they try to be vengeful along the way.
  2. They manipulate you and gaslight you constantly, trying to make you believe that your actions are to be blamed for everything.
  3. They refuse to stick to the rules and boundaries that you have set and are constantly seen crossing lines and pushing your buttons.
  4. They completely disregard your contributions as a parent.
  5. They never acknowledge their mistakes or shortcomings when it comes to co-parenting or anything else.
  6. Your ex tries to investigate your life or collect dirt on you.

Conclusion

Co-parenting can be tricky for every parent, and it can become tougher when the two people involved aren’t on the same page. This is why establishing boundaries and developing healthy rules is extremely vital. By doing so, you can ensure that everyone involved in the situation remains happy and at peace, especially the child.

Go through the article to see what are the ways in which you can create some positive co-parenting boundaries that will benefit everyone in the process.

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