Co-parenting can be one of the most challenging aspects of raising a child after separation or divorce. The reality is that two people, who may not get along perfectly, have to work together for the welfare of their children. The emotional dynamics can make even simple conversations fraught with tension. But for the sake of the children, finding a way to co-parent effectively is crucial.
If you find yourself struggling to maintain a harmonious co-parenting relationship, it might be time to seek help. Here are five signs that may indicate you need professional assistance or counseling to improve your co-parenting skills.
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1. Consistent Communication Breakdowns
Communication is the bedrock of successful co-parenting. If you find that your conversations frequently devolve into arguments, or if there is a complete breakdown in communication, that’s a red flag. Silence can be just as detrimental as constant fighting, as it fosters an environment of misunderstanding and mistrust. If the avenues of conversation between you and your co-parent have broken down, a third-party mediator or counselor can help facilitate more constructive dialogue.
2. The Child Is Frequently Put in the Middle
If your child often serves as a messenger between you and your co-parent, or if they are frequently caught in the crossfire of your disagreements, it’s a sign that the co-parenting relationship needs help. This arrangement puts undue emotional strain on the child and can have long-term psychological effects. A neutral third party can help set boundaries and find strategies that protect your child from becoming a pawn in parental conflicts.
3. Emotional Decisions Overrule Logical Ones
Emotions can run high in any co-parenting relationship, but if you find that your decisions are primarily driven by anger, resentment, or spite rather than the best interests of your child, that’s a warning sign. In these circumstances, emotions can cloud judgement and lead to decisions that are detrimental to everyone involved. Emotional decisions can lead to unnecessary conflicts and can compromise your child’s well-being. A psychologist can help you become aware of these emotional pitfalls and help you navigate them more effectively.
4. Refusal to Flex or Compromise
Parenting is all about compromise. From deciding which school your child will attend to figuring out holiday arrangements, the ability to negotiate is crucial. If you or your co-parent refuses to budge on any issues, it can create an impasse that’s harmful to your child. This inflexibility usually points to deeper issues that may require professional intervention to solve.
5. Escalating Conflicts and Resentments
If conflicts between you and your co-parent are escalating, or if resentments are starting to build to unmanageable levels, it’s likely time to seek help. Unresolved resentments can lead to a toxic environment that’s harmful not just to you, but also to your child. In such cases, a psychologist can provide tools to better manage conflicts and help dissolve lingering resentments.
Co-parenting isn’t easy, but it is essential for the emotional and psychological well-being of your child. If you recognize any of these signs in your co-parenting relationship, it may be beneficial to seek the help of a professional. Counselors, psychologists, and co-parenting experts can provide strategies to help you communicate better, negotiate effectively, and put your child’s well-being at the forefront of your co-parenting relationship. Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and it’s a step towards creating a healthier environment for everyone involved.
Written by Glenda Lux M.A., R. PsychTake me to the online course: Difficult Co-Parenting: Advice You Won’t Forget