So, you had kids with an arsehole. You probably didn’t mean to. Maybe they were much less of an arsehole before the kids came along — or maybe their dickish tendencies were just easier to deal with when you weren’t also trying to keep small humans alive. Whatever the case, you’re here now, looking forward and dreading the long journey of co-parenting.
Striving for a positive, supportive co-parenting partnership should always be the goal. But sometimes? You get stuck with an arsehole and no amount of empathy, patience or communication can change that. There are some strategies and boundaries, though, that you can put in place to make parenting with this jackass a little less miserable.
(Now, these tips really only apply if you’re divorced/separated. If you’re still living with a shithead, that’s a topic for a different post.)
Use an app
One of the easiest things you can do to streamline communication and avoid in-person battles is to use a co-parenting app. Hopefully choosing an app won’t lead to an argument (not out of the realm of possibility, though, I’m sure). The benefits of using an app specifically for co-parenting include:
Messaging that cannot be deleted or altered (i.e., you’ve got documentation should you ever need it)
The ability to scan and send documents easily
A shared calendar
The option to request changes for things like drop-off times, or request reimbursement for expenses
Most importantly, it keeps everything in one central location. No more rapid-fire text messages, followed up by a bitchy email, followed up by three missed calls. Well, at least, in theory.
Pick your battles
Just like with your kids, you’re going to have to pick your battles with your co-parent. You cannot, unfortunately, drag your ex into court every time they’re unreasonable about switching days. But you can decide which issues are most important to you (vaccinations, maybe, or what school or church the kids will attend). If you know the other parent has different issues at the top of their list, maybe some negotiation or compromise is possible so that everyone gets a bit of what they want.
Also, remember that this jerkass is not going to do everything right (i.e., the way you would do it). Maybe they allow way too much screen time or they let the kids stay up too late and they come back to you exhausted after every visit. I know, it’s annoying every single time, but at least they’re vaccinated.
Take the high road
You know and I know and all of us know that you are not the arsehole. Your co-parent is. There’s no sense in engaging in their ridiculousness any more than necessary. When in person, try to keep your interactions brief and your voice as neutral as possible (you can call your mum to rant and rave later). When they send you a particularly asinine message or request via your app, put the phone down and let your anger fade for a few moments before you respond.
When you do respond, keep it short and sweet. (Or at least short and cordial.)
“It’s all about creating a little bit of distance so even if they are going off the damn rails, you are calm and communicating with reasonable, well-thought-out responses,” Offspring Group Member Julie says.
And, finally, never talk about what an arsehole the other parent is in front of your kids. That would make you the arsehole.