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Every divorce is unique; no two are identical and that’s the same for parenting relationships among divorcing couples. Some couples get along great and are excellent at working together to raise their children after the divorce, but that’s more the exception than the norm. It’s very common for parents to struggle with co-parenting after a divorce, at least in the beginning.

If one of the main problems in the marriage was parenting, then co-parenting after the divorce can prove challenging. And if you’re like most people, you’ve probably heard your share of divorce horror stories. Stories of “parental alienation” and fathers who slowly disappeared from the picture. Stories of parents who wouldn’t let their exes see their children and stories of parents who turned their children against the other parent.

If these thoughts concern or even terrify you, we have good news. You can foster a healthy co-parenting relationship with your ex, but first, it helps to know the secret ingredient.

What’s the Big Secret?

The secret to having a healthy co-parenting relationship comes in different names but they all signify the same thing – mutual respect. To reduce the stress of the divorce on your child and make things a lot easier, aim to get along with your ex no matter how you feel about him or her.

Treat your ex with respect, be polite, and expect them to return the favor. View your post-divorce arrangement as a “business agreement.” You may not like the person you’re doing business with, you may even despise them, but you have to treat them with respect.

What makes a co-parenting relationship go sideways is lack of respect. When exes abandon their good manners and call each other names, are deceitful, dishonest, and manipulative, it causes serious damage, which almost always impacts the children for the worse. The single best thing you can do is get along with each other. This seems so simple but it can go a long way in developing a healthy co-parenting relationship that will ease the impact of your divorce on you, your children, and your ex.

Remember to avoid badmouthing your ex. It’s important to bite your tongue and save your animosity for your best friend, your therapist, or your closest family members – your kids should not be on the receiving end!

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