Parenting Tips for Divorced Parents

Even if you have the world’s worst relationship with the person who shares your children’s DNA, here’s how to get your ex helping if you’re a divorced parent

Credit: Flickr/louisa_catlover

When she’s hanging out with him instead of coming home after school, divorced parents need to band together

Divorced parents might not welcome the idea of collaborating, but when it comes to keeping kids safe, working together is the only way

“I don’t care!” screamed my friend’s daughter into her cellphone. “I’m with my friends and I’m not coming home and you can’t do anything about it!” (For more about the dangers of cellphone use for teens, see this story).

My friend’s daughter was 14, too old to be dragged home by the hair, however tempting. So my friend did a brave thing: she asked for help from the ex with whom she’d had an acrimonious separation just a couple of years before.

Can Divorced Parents be Good Co-Parents?

While the circumstances of your breakup may have soured your relationship with your ex, consider putting aside your anger for the sake of the children. Not only because this kind of bitterness can corrode their own positive feelings for both parents, but because, much as you hate to admit it, you need their help.

How to Get Your Ex to Help with Parenting

My friend certainly did. After she got her ex on board, her daughter stopped being able to bounce from one parent to the other, taking advantage of weak points in each one’s rules. And because they communicated, she couldn’t cover long stays at the mall by pretending she’d gone to Dad’s house. So how did my friend do it?

  • She avoided blame. My friend has plenty of opinions as to her ex’s parenting style. But she realized it was wiser to put aside the philosophical disagreements and focus on keeping their daughter safe.
  • She let him decide. Instead of telling him how to fix their child’s behaviour, she presented him with the problem and allowed him to think up solutions.
  • She talked to him regularly. No matter how you feel about your ex, you need to know whether your child went to school or if she’s shirking homework.
  • She was generous. When her ex backed her up, she let him know how it helped. That means he’ll be willing to help the next time she needs it.

Want more tips? See these five secrets for handling teen rebellion from Canada’s Parent.