How to Be a Co-Parent With a Difficult Ex

So you had kids with a jerk. You probably didn’t want to. Maybe they were much less assholes before there were kids, or maybe their wacky tendencies were easier to deal with when you weren’t trying to keep the little people alive either. Be that as it may, you are here now, eagerly awaiting and dreading the long journey of parenting together.

Striving for a positive, supportive partnership with parents should always be the goal. But sometimes? You’re stuck with an asshole and no amount of empathy, patience, or communication can change that. However, there are some strategies and limitations you can apply to make parenting with this fool less miserable.

(Now, these tips only really apply if you’re divorced / separated. If you’re still living with a shit, that’s a topic for another post.)

Use the app

One of the easiest ways to make communication easier and avoid personal confrontations is to use a co-parenting app. Hopefully the choice of application will not lead to an argument (although I’m sure it’s not out of the ordinary). Benefits of using the app specifically for parenting together:

  • Messages that cannot be deleted or changed (i.e. you have documentation if you ever need it)
  • The ability to easily scan and send documents
  • Shared calendar
  • The ability to request changes to things like return times or request reimbursement of expenses.

Most importantly, it keeps everything in one central location. No more fast texting followed by a stupid email followed by three missed calls. Well, at least in theory.

There are many options, but our Offspring Parenting Facebook group recommends AppClose and coParenter among others .

Choose your battles

As with your children, you will have to choose a battle with your second parent. Unfortunately, you can’t drag your ex to court every time they unwisely change their workday. But you can decide which issues are most important to you (vaccination, maybe, or which school or church the children will go to). If you know the other parent at the top of the list has other concerns, there might be some negotiation or compromise possible so that everyone gets a little of what they want.

Also remember that this moron is not going to do it right (that is, the way you do it). Maybe they spend too much screen time or they let the kids stay up too late and they come back tired after every visit. I know it’s annoying every time, but at least they are vaccinated.

Take the high road

You know and I know and we all know that you are not an asshole. Your second parent. It makes no sense to indulge in their absurdities any longer than necessary. When meeting in person, try to keep your communication short and your voice as neutral as possible (you can call your mom later to rant). When they send you a particularly stupid message or request via the app, put your phone down and let your anger subside for a few moments before answering.

When you do answer, be short and sweet. (Or at least short and hearty.)

“It’s all about creating a little distance so that even if they go off the damn tracks, you’ll be calm and communicating with intelligent, well-thought-out responses,” says Offspring Group member Julie.

Finally, never talk in front of your kids about what an asshole the other parent is. It would make you an asshole ..


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