I was talking with a stepmom recently who described a frustrating scene with her husband’s ex-wife. She was caught in the middle trying to help with the kids and collided with the ex-wife’s irresponsibility.

The end result was an unnecessary disruption in everyone’s schedule. Unfortunately, the scene she described is more common than we’d like to admit in stepfamilies.

So, how do we deal with co-parenting collisions? Over the next few posts, I would like to offer some suggestions. I would also love to hear from you on how you make co-parenting work.

My husband and I have had far too many co-parenting collisions with either his ex-spouse or mine. Some of them could have been prevented. Some of them could not.

But one thing I learned early on was to keep the kids out of the middle. If we treat our kids like a rope in a tug of war game, we fail. If we try to negotiate the visitation schedule with our children instead of our ex-spouse, we lose. It’s okay to ask how our kids feel about the schedule or what their preferences are, but negotiating and decision-making regarding the schedule should be handled by adults.

Stepchildren are unnaturally pulled between two homes with parents they love in both homes. Asking them to make a choice or take sides with one home over another is hurtful.

Co-parenting works best when we keep the interests of our children at the center of our parenting. If we disagree with our ex-spouse over parenting issues, we need to discuss it in private. If it is difficult to have civil conversations with our ex, we might need to use the phone or e-mail instead of face-to-face interaction.

Co-parenting can be an ongoing struggle, particularly when dealing with a difficult or unhealthy ex-spouse. I will tackle that challenge in my next post.

What suggestions do you have on co-parenting?

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