What to Do When Co-Parenting Doesn’t Work: Solutions & Tips

what to do when co parenting doesn't work

Co-parenting can be difficult, even for the most amicable of ex-partners. When conflicts arise, it can be challenging to navigate through the turmoil. Arguments, misunderstandings, and disagreements can seriously impact the relationship between co-parents, and more so, the well-being of their children. In this section, we will explore common co-parenting issues, and provide you with practical solutions and tips to help you through these challenges.

Key Takeaways:

  • Co-parenting can be challenging, but there are practical solutions and tips to overcome conflicts.
  • Effective communication, understanding the root of the problem, and prioritizing the needs of the children are key to successful co-parenting.
  • Seeking professional help, setting clear boundaries and expectations, and building a supportive network can also help.

Identifying the Root of the Problem

When co-parenting becomes difficult, it is important to identify the root of the problem in order to address it constructively. Effective communication is crucial in this process, as it allows both parties to express their concerns and reach a common ground. It is also important to understand the underlying causes of co-parenting conflicts, which can range from differences in parenting styles to unresolved emotional issues.

Effective Communication

In order to identify the root of the problem, effective communication is essential. It is important to listen actively to your co-parent and express your own thoughts and feelings in a respectful manner. Avoid blaming or attacking language, which can lead to further conflicts. Instead, focus on “I” statements that express your own emotions and needs. This can help foster empathy and understanding, which can lay the foundation for finding solutions that work for both parties.

Understanding the Underlying Causes

Co-parenting conflicts can often stem from underlying issues that have not been addressed. For example, unresolved emotional issues from the past can affect the way co-parents interact with each other. Differences in parenting styles can also lead to conflicts, as each co-parent may have different ideas about what is best for the children. By understanding the underlying causes of conflicts, co-parents can work together to find effective solutions that address the root of the problem.

Overall, identifying the root of the problem in co-parenting requires effective communication and an open-minded approach. By working together to understand each other’s perspectives and address underlying issues, co-parents can find solutions that work for everyone involved.

Seeking Professional Help

When co-parenting becomes challenging and conflicts are difficult to resolve, seeking professional help can be a beneficial solution. Co-parenting therapy or family counseling can provide a supportive environment to work through issues and help improve communication.

Therapists or counselors can assist co-parents in developing effective strategies for co-parenting, managing conflict, and addressing emotional issues. They can also provide a neutral, third-party perspective that may be helpful in finding common ground and resolving disputes.

Benefits of seeking professional help:
1. Improved communication: A trained therapist can help you and your co-parent learn effective communication skills and techniques to avoid misunderstandings and reduce conflict.
2. Neutral mediator: A third-party mediator can provide unbiased advice and guidance, and facilitate constructive conversations between co-parents.
3. Focus on children’s needs: A therapist can help co-parents develop child-centered co-parenting strategies and ensure the focus is always on the well-being of the children involved.

Remember, seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a proactive step to improve the co-parenting relationship and create a healthier dynamic for everyone involved.

Establishing Clear Boundaries and Expectations

When co-parenting, it is essential to establish clear boundaries and expectations to ensure a successful partnership. This includes creating a co-parenting plan that outlines both parties’ roles and responsibilities.

To create an effective plan, both co-parents should discuss and agree on rules such as bedtimes, homework, discipline, and schedules. The plan should also include arrangements for decision-making, communication, and conflict resolution.

It’s essential to communicate your expectations and boundaries clearly with your co-parent and ensure that they understand and agree with them. This may involve compromising, negotiating, and being flexible where possible.

Tip:It may be helpful to involve a third party, such as a mediator or family counselor, to help establish clear boundaries and expectations and ensure both parties are on the same page.

Remember, your co-parenting plan may need to change and adapt based on your children’s age, changing circumstances, and the evolving dynamics between you and your co-parent. It’s essential to review and adjust the plan regularly to ensure it remains relevant and effective.

“By setting clear boundaries and expectations, you and your co-parent can avoid confusion and conflict, making co-parenting a more positive experience for everyone involved.”

Section 5: Prioritizing the Children’s Needs

When co-parenting, it is crucial to prioritize the well-being and needs of the children involved. This means putting aside personal differences and conflicts, and focusing on what is best for your children.

Tip: Remember, the goal of co-parenting is to provide a stable and supportive environment for your children, even if it means setting aside your own feelings or desires.

To ensure a child-centered co-parenting approach, consider the following tips:

  • Communicate with your children about their feelings and needs.
  • Agree on consistent parenting styles and expectations.
  • Avoid using your children as messengers or involving them in adult conflicts.
  • Make an effort to attend important events and activities in your children’s lives.
  • Respect your co-parent’s time with the children and avoid interfering with their parenting decisions.

Tip: If necessary, seek the support of a family counselor or therapist to assist in ensuring that your children’s needs are being met, and that their well-being is being prioritized.

“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” – C.S. Lewis

Developing Effective Communication Strategies

Effective communication is key to a successful co-parenting relationship. By improving your communication skills, you can minimize conflicts, reduce misunderstandings, and establish a positive dynamic with your co-parent.

Here are some tips for developing effective communication strategies:

  • Listen actively: When your co-parent is speaking, pay close attention to what they are saying without interrupting. Repeat what they’ve said in your own words to show that you understand their perspective.
  • Be respectful: Maintain a respectful tone of voice and avoid using accusatory language. Remember, you are both working towards a common goal of raising your children.
  • Use “I” statements: Use “I feel” statements instead of “you did” statements. This approach can help avoid blame and encourage constructive dialogue.
  • Avoid sensitive topics: If certain topics tend to lead to conflicts, try to avoid them altogether or approach them in a calm and respectful manner.
  • Set clear boundaries: Determine what forms of communication work best for both parties, whether it’s email, text, phone calls, or in-person meetings. Establishing clear boundaries can prevent miscommunication and misunderstandings.
  • Consider mediation: If communication between you and your co-parent is particularly challenging, a mediator can assist in facilitating constructive conversations and help you both reach agreements.

Creating a Supportive Network

Co-parenting can be challenging, and having a supportive network can make all the difference in managing those challenges. Consider building a network of family, friends, or support groups who can offer emotional support, practical advice, or even just a listening ear when you need it. Surrounding yourself with individuals who understand the unique difficulties of co-parenting can help relieve feelings of isolation and provide a sense of community.

You can seek support from a variety of sources. Consider joining a co-parenting support group, either online or in-person, where you can connect with others who are going through similar experiences. You might also find comfort in talking to friends or family members who have been through co-parenting themselves or who simply understand the ups and downs of raising children.

If you feel overwhelmed or unsure how to proceed, consider seeking help from a co-parenting therapist. A trained professional can offer guidance, strategies for effective communication, and support for managing the emotional toll of co-parenting conflicts.

If you find that co-parenting conflicts are difficult to resolve, it may be time to consider mediation or legal assistance. Mediation can help facilitate communication and negotiation between co-parents to reach a mutually beneficial resolution.

In some cases, legal assistance may be necessary, particularly when it comes to custody and visitation agreements. Hiring a family law attorney can help you understand your rights and obligations under the law.

It’s important to keep in mind that involving legal professionals can be costly and time-consuming, so it should be a last resort if all other options have been exhausted.

Practicing Self-Care and Managing Emotions

Co-parenting can be emotionally taxing, but taking care of yourself is crucial to maintain a positive co-parenting relationship. Here are some tips for practicing self-care and managing emotions:

  1. Take care of your physical health: Make sure to eat well, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. When your body feels good, it’s easier to handle stressful situations.
  2. Practice mindfulness: Take time every day to focus on the present moment and become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. This can help you manage stress and anxiety.
  3. Find healthy outlets for your emotions: Whether it’s talking to a trusted friend or therapist, writing in a journal, or practicing a relaxing hobby, find healthy ways to express your emotions and process your feelings.
  4. Set boundaries: It’s important to set healthy boundaries with your co-parent and take time for yourself when needed. Don’t feel guilty about taking a break or prioritizing your own needs.
  5. Practice forgiveness: Holding onto grudges and resentment can be harmful to your emotional well-being. Practice forgiveness, not just for your co-parent, but for yourself as well.
  6. Seek professional help: Don’t be afraid to seek the help of a therapist or counselor if you’re struggling to manage your emotions or cope with stress.
  7. Take time for yourself: Whether it’s scheduling a massage, going for a walk, or enjoying a favorite hobby, make sure to take time for yourself regularly. You deserve it.

Adapting to Changing Circumstances

Co-parenting can be especially challenging when circumstances change unexpectedly, such as a job loss, a move, or a new relationship. It’s important to remain flexible and adapt your co-parenting plan as necessary to accommodate these changes.

This may require revisiting your co-parenting agreement and making adjustments to ensure that both parents are still able to fulfill their responsibilities and spend quality time with the children. An open and honest discussion with your co-parent can help to determine the best way to move forward.

It’s also important to consider the impact of these changes on your children. Try to maintain consistency in their routines and maintain open communication with them to alleviate any anxiety or confusion they may be feeling.

Remember, adapting to changing circumstances requires a willingness to compromise and work together for the benefit of your children. Keep the lines of communication open and remain flexible, and you’ll be able to navigate through these changes together.

Co-Parenting After Conflict or Divorce

Divorce or conflict can create complex co-parenting dynamics that often require a delicate balance of compromise, empathy, and patience. In order to create a positive co-parenting relationship, both parties must be willing to work together and prioritize the needs of the children involved.

Rebuilding Trust and Communication

Rebuilding trust and communication is crucial when co-parenting after conflict or divorce. This can be challenging, especially if past conflicts have left emotional wounds. However, it is important to work towards forgiveness and finding common ground in order to create a healthy co-parenting relationship.

Effective communication is key in rebuilding trust and preventing future conflicts. This means actively listening to each other, respecting each other’s opinions, and avoiding blame or criticism. By keeping the focus on the children and their needs, co-parents can work towards a positive and respectful relationship.

Consistency and Flexibility

Consistency in parenting styles and rules is important for the well-being of the children involved. This means establishing similar rules and consequences in both households to avoid confusion or inconsistency. However, it is also important to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances or needs of the children.

In cases where co-parents have different styles or rules, it is important to find a compromise that works for both parties. This may require communication, negotiation, and compromise from both sides.

Creating a Co-Parenting Plan

Creating a co-parenting plan can help establish clear boundaries and expectations between co-parents, and avoid future conflicts. A co-parenting plan should outline the responsibilities and roles of each parent, establish a schedule for visitation and custody arrangements, and provide guidelines for decision-making regarding the children’s education, health, and extracurricular activities.

It may be necessary to seek professional assistance in creating a co-parenting plan, such as a family mediator or lawyer, to ensure the plan is fair and acceptable to both parties.

“Remember that co-parenting after conflict or divorce requires compromise, flexibility, and empathy. By working together and prioritizing the well-being of the children involved, a positive co-parenting relationship is possible.”

Seeking Resolution and Closure

Co-parenting conflicts can be emotionally challenging, and it’s important to seek resolution and closure in order to move forward and create a healthier co-parenting dynamic. By doing so, you can help avoid ongoing disputes and establish a more positive relationship with your co-parent.

Finding forgiveness is often an important step in the process of seeking resolution. Holding on to anger or resentment can make it difficult to move past conflicts and focus on the future. Forgiveness allows you to let go of negative emotions and make room for positive change.

Letting go of past hurts is also important, as it frees you from the burden of carrying negative emotions. This can be a difficult process, and it may take time to fully let go. Remember to be patient with yourself and take things at your own pace.

Moving forward is the ultimate goal of seeking resolution and closure. By focusing on the present and future, you can establish a positive co-parenting relationship and work together to provide the best possible care for your children.

It’s important to acknowledge that seeking resolution and closure can be a difficult process, and it may be helpful to seek the assistance of a co-parenting therapist or counselor. These professionals can help guide you through the process and provide support along the way.


Co-parenting can be a challenging journey, but it is not impossible to navigate. By implementing effective communication strategies, seeking professional help, establishing clear boundaries, and prioritizing the children’s needs, you can create a healthy co-parenting dynamic. Remember to practice self-care, seek support when needed, adapt to changing circumstances, and seek resolution and closure.

By working towards a harmonious co-parenting relationship, you can provide a stable and nurturing environment for your children to grow and thrive. Although it may take time and effort, the benefits of a successful co-parenting relationship can be invaluable.


Q: What should I do when co-parenting doesn’t work?

A: When co-parenting doesn’t work, it’s important to identify the root of the problem and address it constructively. Seeking professional help, establishing clear boundaries and expectations, and prioritizing the children’s needs are all key strategies to improve the co-parenting relationship.

Q: How can I identify the root of the problem in co-parenting?

A: Effective communication is essential in identifying the underlying causes of co-parenting conflicts. By actively listening, understanding each other’s perspectives, and seeking common ground, you can gain insights into the root of the problem and work towards a resolution.

Q: What are the benefits of seeking professional help in co-parenting?

A: Co-parenting therapists or family counselors can provide valuable guidance and support in resolving conflicts and improving your co-parenting relationship. Their expertise can help you develop effective strategies and communication skills to navigate co-parenting challenges.

Q: How can I establish clear boundaries and expectations in co-parenting?

A: Setting clear boundaries and expectations is crucial in co-parenting. Creating a co-parenting plan, discussing roles and responsibilities, and ensuring open and respectful communication can help establish a framework for successful co-parenting.

Q: How can I prioritize the needs and well-being of my children in co-parenting?

A: Fostering a child-centered approach is essential in co-parenting. Consistency in parenting styles, maintaining open lines of communication about the children’s needs, and making joint decisions based on their best interests can help prioritize their well-being.

Q: What are some effective communication strategies for co-parenting?

A: Developing effective communication strategies is key to minimizing conflicts in co-parenting. Active listening, using “I” statements, and finding common ground can foster respectful conversations and improve the overall co-parenting relationship.

Q: How can I create a supportive network in co-parenting?

A: Building a supportive network of family, friends, or support groups can provide valuable emotional support and understanding during co-parenting challenges. Seek out individuals who understand the unique struggles of co-parenting and can offer guidance and encouragement.

Q: When should I consider mediation or legal assistance in co-parenting?

A: If co-parenting conflicts become difficult to resolve, mediation or legal assistance may be necessary. Seeking professional help can provide objective guidance and expertise in navigating legal and custody matters effectively.

Q: How can I practice self-care and manage emotions in co-parenting?

A: Practicing self-care is essential in maintaining emotional well-being during challenging co-parenting situations. Engaging in activities that bring you joy, seeking therapy or counseling, and developing healthy coping mechanisms can help manage emotions and reduce stress.

Q: How can I adapt to changing circumstances in co-parenting?

A: Flexibility and adaptability are necessary in co-parenting when circumstances change. Adjusting co-parenting plans, communicating openly about changes, and finding solutions that prioritize the children’s best interests can help navigate transitions successfully.

Q: How can I rebuild trust and foster a positive co-parenting relationship after conflict or divorce?

A: Rebuilding trust takes time and effort. Focus on open and honest communication, honoring agreements, and demonstrating consistency in your actions. Strive to create a positive co-parenting environment that promotes the children’s well-being.

Q: Why is seeking resolution and closure important in co-parenting conflicts?

A: Seeking resolution and closure allows co-parents to move forward and create a healthier co-parenting dynamic. By practicing forgiveness, letting go of past grievances, and focusing on the future, you can work towards a more harmonious co-parenting relationship.

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top