How 11 Moms Make Co-Parenting With an Ex Work (No, for Reals)

Wendy Robinson | Sep 7, 2016 Love & Sex


When I first met my now-husband, I was a little scared about dating someone who had been divorced. I wasn't sure if that was going to be an extra layer of drama to our relationship -- especially since he had kids from his previous marriage, and I knew his ex would always be a part of the picture. I wasn't sure if I was up for that. 

But as I got to know my husband, I saw how he and his ex were able to co-parent without any real drama or petty fighting, and I knew I could make it work.

There is no doubt that divorce is painful and that co-parenting with someone who you are untangling your life from can be all sorts of complicated. For couples who want to make sure the kids come first, though, there are ways to make it work. 

Read on for some ways to make co-parenting with an ex manageable and even sometimes (dare I say it?) actually fun. 

coparenting with ex

Image via Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for J/P Haitian Relief Organization

  • Weekly Meetings

    1

    "When my wife and I separated, we made a standing once-a-week parenting check-in 'date.' We meet at a neutral location and hash out kid schedules for the week, talk about any parenting issue that have come up, divide up things like who is taking who to the doctor and who is going to the field trip. It isn't always fun, but it makes sure we are both 100 percent involved in parenting decisions." -- Mandy F., Ames, Iowa

  • We Don't Talk

    2

    "I can't stand my ex and we can't be in a room without arguing. Period. For the sake of the kids, we aren't talking face-to-face right now. We only communicate via email, and because we both know that those emails can be shown to our attorneys if needed, we are more polite than we normally would be.

    "It sounds like a bad tip, but I think anything that keeps the kids from hearing us fight more is a good thing." -- Name withheld by request

  • Soccer Time

    3

    "My ex-husband coaches both our daughters' soccer teams and I go to every game. I think it is important for them to have us both there cheering for them and it shows them that we can be civil and are on their side." -- Erin W., Des Moines, Iowa

    More from CafeMom: 11 Women Share the Costly Money Mistakes They Made During Divorce

  • Parallel Parent

    4

    "My co-parenting is a little different than what I know to be the norm, because my ex-husband flat-out refused to co-parent with me. He said that he wanted to 'parallel parent' instead, to keep what happens at his house separate from what happens at mine.

    I dislike this because I feel like it hinders my daughter's consistency. The only good thing is that I don't have to communicate regularly with him or see him very often. We communicate by email; change-of-parenting time happens at school, so I don't have to see him -- he just drops her off and I pick her up. I would definitely prefer to have more involvement in the other half of her life, but this is my only option since I didn't have the financial means to fight it. Anyway, this is what works for me and what doesn't." -- Danielle R., Los Angeles, California

  • The Best Move

    5

    "Honestly, the best co-parenting move we ever made was getting divorced. Our daughter is much better off without us fighting all the time. We've agree to never talk bad about each other around her and I think she is less stressed out now." -- Nicki K., Albert Lea, Minnesota 

  • Be Flexible

    6

    "We have a thing called 'bonus weekend.' We split custody and we plan out who has the kids for each of the first three weekends of the month. The fourth weekend, we let the kids choose where they want to go. Sometimes they just need more time with one of us than the other. Sometimes they split up and we get one-on-one time with one kid. I think it gives them a feeling of control too, that sometimes they get to decide where they want to be. I'm glad my ex is on board for it." -- Zoe S., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

    More from CafeMom: 10 Things to Replace After Your Divorce

  • Be My Guest

    7

    "I'm lucky because my divorce is fairly amicable. But one thing that I think is good is that my ex has a standing invite to spend the night here, in the guest room, of course. We have family dinner once a week and sometimes the kids just want him to stay to put them to bed or to snuggle. Sometimes it gets late, so he crashes in the guest room and takes the kids to school the next day. It is nice, actually." -- Blair D., Colorado Springs, Colorado

  • Grandparent Love

    8

    "One of my co-parenting things is that we sat each of our parents down and told them that they are NEVER EVER allowed to bash the other parent around the kids. My ex and I agreed to not do that, so the grandparents need to as well if they want to spend time with the kids. 

    "This was tough on my dad because he is still PISSED at my ex, but he does it to have that grandpa time." -- Rayne L., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

  • Teamwork

    9

    "We agreed that we are both there for ALL major life events, regardless of whose night it is. Parent-teacher conferences, sports events, whatever. Our kid deserves both parents when it really matters." -- Tara E., Portland, Oregon

    More from CafeMom: 11 Women Share the Costly Mistakes They Made During Divorce

  • Christmas Rule

    10

    "We've agreed that a kid shouldn't have to choose between parents on Christmas morning or their birthday. So those are always a joint affair. This year, my ex's new girlfriend will be coming. I'd rather not celebrate my holidays with her, but my kid comes first." -- Annie P., Tucson, Arizona

  • Bird's Nest

    11

    "We do the bird's nest thing. The kids stay at the house and my ex and I share an apartment. When it is his custody night, I come stay at the apartment and vice versa. Sometimes it is weird to live among his stuff three nights a week, but the kids never have to pack the sad duffel bag. 

    "It works for now but probably won't once either of us remarries. We'll reassess when that happens." -- Courtney M., Topeka, Kansas

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