Good parenting doesn’t stop when parents break up | #parenting

I’m a regular reader of your column and most of the time I find your suggestions helpful, but I did not find your answer last week to a woman with an uncooperative ex of any benefit. Basically, you just told her to call a meeting and work it out.

Her point was she didn’t get along with her ex. How can you expect exes who don’t get along to co-parent together? What’s good ex-etiquette?

I certainly understand exes don’t get along, but I also believe if there is a court-ordered parenting plan in place forcing their children to go back and forth, it’s the parents’ job to do it right — put all their animosities aside and work together. To say they can’t is simply unacceptable. If you didn’t do your job based on not liking a co-worker, you’d probably get fired. Co-workers are expected to work together to get the job done. The premise is the same.

Good ex-etiquette for parents rule No. 7 is, “Use empathy when problem solving.” Most will think that is empathy for the other parent and in most cases, that’s exactly what it means. But in this case, put yourself in your children’s shoes. Can you imagine living in two places? Having to pick up and move every few days or every week?

And, to top it off, the people you have to answer to at either home don’t get along with one another — they accuse you of preferring one home to another, openly blame each other for their plight, never coordinate efforts and expect you to go along with the program?

Problem solving starts with you. If the parent gets counseling, odds are, their child may not need it.

I’ve worked with co-parents for over 35 years now, and I have seen this firsthand: People who want to get along do. People who don’t want to get along, don’t. Even under the worst conditions — betrayal, past domestic violence, addiction — I’ve seen parents reconsider the error of their ways and change for the sake of their children. I’m not talking about reconciliation. I’m talking about looking for ways to work together and stop putting their kids in the middle.

Good parenting doesn’t stop when parents break up. Not getting along with an ex is nothing special. Rising above the past and making your decisions together based on the children you both love is VERY special — and that’s why I said, “Call a meeting and work it out.” I’m simply trying to remind parents that it starts with us. That’s good ex-etiquette.


Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, www.bonusfamilies.com.


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