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Getting back on track after a co-parenting dispute

Even the most amicable parents can fight when they are part of a co-parenting arrangement. You might disagree with rules as your child gets older, or you might get angry if the other parent starts dating someone who seems untrustworthy or dangerous.

Understanding that disputes arise is important because it allows you to identify co-parenting strategies to get back on track after a fight. Below are some suggestions for addressing and recovering from a co-parenting argument.

  1. Take a timeout. You give your children a timeout to cool off and reflect on the situation, and you can practice this as well. After a fight, parents might agree to take a break for a certain amount of time and not interact. After that period, it can be easier to move past the situation or discuss it with clearer heads.
  2. Talk to a counselor. This can be a wise option when an argument is about more than something like a missed drop-off. Speaking with a counselor (separately or together, if appropriate) can help identify underlying issues and help parents find healthy ways to address them.
  3. Return to the beginning. After years of co-parenting, parents can get too comfortable with a parenting arrangement and lose sight of the ground rules. After a fight, consider going back to your original parenting plan and strictly complying with the terms. Doing so can help you reinstate boundaries and stability after an argument.
  4. Do something different and fun with your kids. Co-parenting is demanding and frustrating, and as this Huffington Post article on co-parenting notes, it can be easy to get caught up in the minutiae of the parenting arrangement. Instead of focusing on a disagreement with the other parent, you could do something fun with your kids and refocus on meeting their needs. Not only does this benefit your children, it can give you a fresh perspective on your situation.

Fights between co-parents can be frustrating and upsetting, but they do not have to destroy an otherwise solid arrangement.

However, if there are concerns about a fight permanently affecting a parenting arrangement, it can be wise to discuss these concerns with an attorney. In some cases, it may be necessary to modify your existing agreement.

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