7 Strategies to Overcome Conflict in Co-Parenting
Overcoming conflict is often easier said than done between two individuals who have divorced or separated. Ending the relationship may have provided some relief to the conflict between the parties involved, but those who have children together learn quickly that there is a need to maintain some kind of working relationship in place for their children. They may also learn that conflicts that existed during the relationship have a way of persisting into co-parenting.
It may seem impossible at the onset, but it is possible to overcome conflict in co-parenting and peacefully raise your children as partners in parenting. Consider these seven strategies to overcome conflict in co-parenting.
Your Child Always Comes First
It's been said many times before, but it must be said again: your child always comes first. Before engaging in a conversation or decision-making process with your co-parent, be prepared to keep the focus on your child and their needs. Your goal should be to meet their needs and reach agreements that work in their favor before focusing on your own desires.
Let the Past Be the Past
As co-parents, you should focus on what's happening now with your children, not what happened before between the two of you. Fixating on past conflicts or events that contributed to your separation or divorce could lead you to make decisions based on your feelings towards those memories. Of course, certain circumstances may need to be considered for some time, such as past events that put your child's safety at risk, and should be brought to the attention of your family law and mental health professionals so they can help you navigate how to move forward in your co-parenting.
Don't Let It Scare You
While in order to overcome conflict in co-parenting you should work to end it, being afraid of it altogether may create more harm than good. Being scared of conflict may cause a person to become more defensive or irritated than they normally would be in a conversation. If you sense a conversation about to occur that could create conflict, keep calm in order to reduce the tension that could make this situation go from a discussion to a full-on dispute.
Clarify, Don't Assume
When facing a conflict with someone, it may be easy to assume answers or reasons behind the other person's actions. Even if you think you know this person very well, don't reach conclusions before having all the facts straight. To overcome assumptions or speculations, ask questions to help you get where they are coming from and have a better idea of how to quell the conflict to reach an understanding.
Give Yourself A Chance to Think
It can be hard to know just what to say when you are confronted with a difficult matter. But to help you overcome an oncoming conflict, think carefully about how you want to respond. Give yourself some time to really think about what it is that you want to say and how to do so in the clearest, most effective manner.
Word Choice and Tone Are Key
Building effective communication between yourself and your co-parent will certainly be helpful in reducing conflicts, so it will be important to be mindful about the words and tone that you choose to use when conversing with your co-parent. Stay away from using language for the sole purpose of offending or hurting your co-parent's feelings; this only will prolong a conflict. Furthermore, be aware of how your tone is making the words you choose to use come off. This goes for when you're speaking face-to-face, over the phone, or even in messaging. Some communication tools, like OurFamilyWizard's message board, offer a feature specifically designed to help you get a better understanding of the tone of the messages you write.
Winning Isn't Everything
Overcoming conflict isn't about winning arguments in order to end them. It's about communicating and reaching agreements in such a way that not only upholds your child's best interests but also keeps them protected from conflict that can be harmful to them. Let go of trying to always be right because the truth is you may not always be. Instead, strive to be understanding and fair. Keeping the focus on your child and upholding their well-being will help make this goal easier to achieve.
Overcoming conflict in co-parenting may not always feel easy, but these seven strategies can help you get there. Moreover, using tools to support your efforts in attaining clear, peaceful communication can be a great help. Click here to learn more about how the OurFamilyWizard toolset can help you and your co-parent overcome conflict.