7 Things to Give Up to Positively Co-Parent

You’re all here because you WANT TO work with your co-parent. You want to get things done for your children. You know the kids benefit from both parents being a part of their lives. You also know that this means during your part in co-parenting. What does that mean? It means giving up a few things to ensure co-parenting goes smoothly - at least on your end.

  1. Competition. You need to know that your children don’t love one parent more than another - even if one of those parents has an Xbox.

  2. Being right. You’ve heard the phrase, “you can be happy or you can be right” and in positive co-parenting, that phrase sometimes rings true. Arguments cannot happen over every detail, pick your battles.

  3. Sticking to your Court Order exactly. There’s no perfect Court Order. You can put everything imaginable in it, but there will still be situations in which flexibility matters more than the Court Order.

  4. Big events. Speaking of Court Orders, generally speaking, you and your co-parent are splitting big days. This means that when your child graduates from preschool, they will go home with one of you vs. both of you. Birthdays happen on a different day every year, which means you may have your kids on their special day one year, but not the next.

  5. Control. Co-Parenting means both parents make decisions for their kids - all decisions. You may have the ability to make all the decisions on your own, and they may be good decisions, but it’s not just one parent’s choice.

  6. Pain from the divorce. As long as you are holding onto the anger and hurt that comes from the divorce, it will find it’s way into your co-parenting relationship. Not only does letting go of this pain give you a chance at a better, happier life, but it protects your co-parenting relationship.

  7. Waiting for apologies. Sometimes you need to be ok with the sorry you never get. A lot has happened to get you to this point. Some of you will get an apology, some of you will not. This doesn’t mean closure can’t happen. It just means you need to find closure outside of an apology.

What have you given up in order to be a positive co-parent? What do you need to give up, yet? What’s holding you back? Come and talk about it in the Facebook group or comment below.


Positive Co-Parenting Rules

I’m a rule follower. Ask my husband. It drives him insane! The truth is that I feel better when I know there are certain rules for me to follow. I don’t believe I’m alone in this, either. When I let go of all the anger that consumed me after my divorce and really committed myself to positive co-parenting, I found that putting together a list of rules for me to follow will help me stay on track - even when the track is filled with potholes (and it really, really is).  To be honest, in creating my list of rules, it actually helped really forgive myself for all the rule-breaking I did in the past, and helped me truly let go of the past since I was working on goals for the future. So, here you go, my list of rules for all you rule-following co-parents out there:

  1. Be honest. We’re a Christian family, so honesty matters in all situations in our house, but you and I both know that honesty doesn’t always come easy. When I say ‘be honest’, I don’t mean use this as an excuse to attack your co-parent because you’re “just being honest”. I mean, own up to the situations in which you weren’t or aren’t the best co-parent, own when you’ve done something wrong, and just be honest.

  2. Be kind. Yep. Just that simple. Even when all I want to do is go on the attack, I’m choosing kindness first. My words matter. They hold a lot of power. Once said, they cannot be unsaid. Be kind.

  3. Keep moving forward. There will always be hiccups along the way, but as long as the general direction is forward - we’re doing ok. All of our kids are going to grow and they’re going to grow up faster than any of us wants. Keep moving forward - focusing on THEM.

  4. Ask. There are so so many times when my kids and I want to make plans outside of the court order. Many times they tell me that “Dad’s just going to say no”, but if I don’t ask, the answer will always be no. We were able to negotiate vacation just a year ago because they asked, as well as changing weekends to align with my step-daughter’s weekends.

  5. Be happy over being right. Oh my goodness, if I had a dollar for every time I swear I was right, but didn’t engage… Do you feel the same way? Hindsight is 20/20, so I can look back and say this, I don’t need validation from anyone when I am right, so arguing in an effort to get that is a waste of time. As long as everything is moving forward, then it doesn’t really matter who’s right, does it?

Those are my basic co-parenting rules. What are yours? I’d love to hear what you think of this and what rules you’ll put in place to keep yourself in a positive co-parenting frame of mind. Comment below!


10 Things to Reply With Instead of Saying What You REALLY Want

Picture this. An email or a text comes through from your co-parent. You open it. It’s yet another angry message blaming you for anything and everything. It’s unwarranted and makes you want to scream. Actually. It makes you want to write back pointing out every idiotic, ridiculous thing they’ve done as a way to tell them that they have no say in your life and they have no idea what’s going on.

But you can’t. You can’t because you’re the positive co-parent and you’re modeling better behavior than that. You know that if you stoop to that level, your relationship will stay at that level until one of you rises above it. So you don’t. Even though you REALLY want to.

If you’re in this situation and struggle with what to say, here is a list of 3 responses that stay positive and above board when your ex has given you nothing to go off of in communication:

  1. Thank you for the feedback.

  2. I appreciate your concern.

  3. Thank you for the reply.

Here’s a list of 7 more responses when you want to keep conversation open, but you sense anger and resentment on the other side:

  1. That’s a different way of looking at it, thank you for the perspective.

  2. Do you have any other thoughts regarding (any issue you are discussing)?

  3. Why do you feel that way?

  4. Do you think there are other ways of looking at this issue?

  5. Is it possible we’re both right here, we’re just seeing this from different sides?

  6. I want to understand more about what you’re saying, can you elaborate?

  7. I’m open to more conversation about this, it’s a touchy subject so I’d like to gather my thoughts and get back to you by (be sure to enter a date and stick to it).

These responses are all positive and ensure you’re not shutting down communication, but they need to be genuine. If you’re saying, “Thanks for the reply” in a completely sarcastic tone, it will absolutely shut down communication.

Your role is one of positivity and modeling mature conversation. Having an idea of what to say when tension happens can help prevent you from being reactive. These are just a few ideas. I’d love to hear yours. Do you have a go-to phrase to keep things positive when all you want is to say something negative? Comment below!


Boundaries and Co-Parenting

When you go through a divorce, you and your ex are no longer a “we”. You and the kids are a “we”. Your ex and the kids are a “we”, but you and your ex are no longer a “we”. Despite that, you’re raising kids together which means that your lives aren’t completely separate from each other. This is a giant grey area that needs to be talked about.

What boundaries are acceptable after a divorce?  

Before you can create your boundaries, you need to know who you’re dealing with. If your ex is the type of person who tries to work his or her way into your life constantly, your boundaries may be a little stiffer than if you have an ex who wants to have their own life separate from yours.

When creating boundaries, keep the kids the main focus. If you were the one that moved after a divorce and the kids want to show Mom or Dad their new room, that’s a great way to make the kid’s transition post-divorce easier. That doesn’t mean your ex is coming in for dinner and making him/herself at home. It simply means your kids want both parents involved in their life and their life now consists of 2 homes.

Be reasonable and flexible with your boundaries. If you’re not using a communication system with your ex, texting may not be enough. Some situations require a longer message and email is needed. If you’re absolutely not comfortable with your ex having your email address, set up an email address that you will use with your ex (it’s free and takes approximately 90 seconds).

Communicate your boundaries positively. There’s a difference between saying, “These are my boundaries and I expect you to stick with them” and saying, “In an effort to more positively co-parent, I’ve found that these best practices have worked with other co-parents, let me know your thoughts”. Which do you think your ex is more willing to be open to?

Finally, focus on you and your life with your children. Many co-parents are so focused on their ex that they miss out on time with their kids. Set boundaries for yourself! Notice your thoughts on a daily basis and if most of your thoughts revolve around your ex, then work to make some changes to that.

Overall, boundaries in life are a good thing if used well. In co-parenting, the boundaries you create can either open a positive working relationship or completely shut the other person down. Be realistic, positive, and open because even though it is your life and you are divorced from your ex - you are still raising kids together and that means they’re a part of your life forever.

Let me know your thoughts! What boundaries have worked with you? How do you follow through with them?


6 Things Positive Co-Parents Do Differently

It doesn’t matter if your ex is a narcissist, if they refuse to communicate, or if they constantly attack you - what matters is you. Are you a positive co-parent? Are you modeling behavior you’d want your children to take on. If you’re reading this, it means you want to be a positive co-parent even when it’s difficult.

What do positive co-parents do differently?

  1. Positive co-parents manage the frustration they feel outside of communication with their ex. Notice that I did not say positive co-parents don’t have frustrating moments. All co-parents will have moments where they feel like they’re beating their heads against a wall. Positive co-parents handle it before communicating with their ex. They aren’t letting frustration fuel the communication.

  2. Positive co-parents do not engage in the angry cycle. I talk about the angry cycle in the co-parenting course. Positive co-parents recognize when it’s happening and jump off before they’re sucked in. They do not let attacks, lack of communication, or miscommunication suck them into a cycle that goes nowhere and accomplishes nothing.

  3. Positive co-parents are present with their children. Too many co-parents get caught up in worrying about, wondering about, or getting frustrated with what their co-parent is doing. I get it. It’s easy to do, especially when your children come home and tell you about it. Positive co-parents understand that every minute spent thinking about their ex is 60 seconds lost with their children. Positive co-parents can snap out of their own heads so they’re better able to focus on what’s most important - time with the kids.

  4. Positive co-parents model effective communication. Communication is the #1 most important tool in co-parenting. Positive co-parents balance respecting their co-parent’s boundaries with modeling positive communication as it should be.

  5. Positive co-parents give the benefit of the doubt. For many co-parents, even the positive co-parents, this is the hardest thing to do. These positive co-parents understand how harmful it is to the co-parenting relationship for one ex to assume the worst in the other (even if all signs point to the worst being factual). These positive co-parents refuse to assume the worst until they learn more and they communicate effectively to learn more.

  6. Positive co-parents forgive the past. Again, this is incredibly difficult. Positive co-parents understand that rehashing what’s already done will result in going nowhere. Positive co-parents understand that they may have to make peace even when there are no apologies. Positive co-parents understand that the future matters more than the past.

How did you stack up? Do you feel like you have been positively co-parenting or do you have some work to do? It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or where you are - all that matters is where you’re going. Each of these steps can help build a positive relationship, even when your ex doesn’t want one.

Comment below with any ways missed!

If you're like most co-parents, you could easily knock a couple of those items off of the list, but not all of them. If you have yet to forgive the past. If you have a hard time giving the benefit of the doubt because your ex is just that bad. If you try to communicate, but it's not going anywhere - there's a different way. The Co-Parenting Book is available for instant download and can give you all the tips and tools talked about in the course. Download it today. 


Fixing Communication Issues

I’ve heard a lot of feedback about the talk on communication. Most agree that communication is the biggest issue they have with their ex. Whether it’s hostile, non-existent, or just plain never gets anywhere - communication is necessary and difficult.

You want to fix the problem, but how exactly do you figure out what the problem is?

In my experience, communication issues fall within 1 of 3 categories: someone feels unheard, someone feels like they have lost control, and/or someone feels as though they are attacked. Let’s dive into those issues in a little more detail.

Feeling Unheard

You probably have felt this at one point or another. You try to make a point, ask a question, or just send off a message and you either get a reply that’s completely off topic or no reply at all. All of the issues that you’ve tried to bring up in order to make things better for your children are ignored! Then what? How do you handle it when you feel completely unheard? Know that the way YOU handle it can either work towards a positive co-parenting relationship or put more division between the two of you.

If your ex is feeling unheard, he/she could respond in many different ways - likely none of which will feel like positive co-parenting. Ask yourself, how am I making my ex feel heard when he/she comes with a request? If you feel that you aren’t, now is your chance to change it.


This is a big one, isn’t it? You feel like your ex constantly wants control, and in my experience, many ex’s feel that way. That means, statistically, your ex likely feels like you want control over everything, too.

Control is such a big part of co-parenting for so many reasons that would take too long to go into here. If you feel as though your ex wants constant control over you, there are ways to prevent it from taking over co-parenting.

  1. Know that no matter how hard they try, you and only you are in charge of what happens at your house.

  2. You are the only person who is in charge of your own thoughts, no one can control those unless you let them.

  3. Control is a word that has negative connotations. Rather than thinking of decision making as someone who takes control, decide that decision making is a joint process in which there is no tally as to who makes more decisions. It does not matter whose ideas were chosen. All that matters is that decisions are made in the best interests of the kids.

Ask yourself, what am I doing to ensure I don’t appear controlling when communicating with my ex?

Feeling Attacked

When you feel attacked, you will respond in at least 1 of 3 ways. You’ll either get defensive, you’ll go on the attack yourself, or you’ll simply shut down. Your ex will respond in the same ways. Every person will respond in at least 1 of those 3 ways. Here’s the secret.

You don’t have to actually be attacked in order to feel as though you are attacked.

Does that make sense? If your ex sends you a message saying he/she feels that your child is failing in a class and feels like it’s because they’re not working hard enough on homework - it’s not an attack. This is a non-emotional way to start a conversation to help your child. The problem is that you may feel it’s an attack on you as a parent and that your ex is saying you’re failing at making him do his homework. It’s not an attack, but it can feel like one. The same situation can be reversed and your ex may feel attacked by you when that wasn’t the point at all. Communication takes a turn because one or both of you feel attacked and respond based on it.

My recommendation is this. First, you cannot control whether or not your ex feels attacked by you, but you can control whether or not you attack them. You can also control your ability to recognize defensiveness, counterattacks, or removing themselves from the situation and address it positively. You can also choose the best option in the 3 when you feel attacked and remove yourself from the conversation long enough to gather yourself and respond thoughtfully.

Communication is necessary. Joint custody mandates communication between the parties. If these are the issues you’re dealing with, you cannot decide how your ex responds, but you can control your own communication. 

Broken communication affects you, it affects your kids, and it derails a chance at positive co-parenting. The Positive Co-Parenting Course gives you strategies for dealing with specific difficult personalities. It tells you exactly how to respond when those attacks come in. It gives you all the tools you need to take the co-parenting relationship forward instead of backwards. 


Communication After Divorce - How to Communicate

Last week, I wrote about what to communicate about with your ex. You can read that here. This week, the focus is not on what to communicate about, but how to communicate, especially when your ex refuses to communicate with you.

First, decide on a method.

If you don’t know me, you wouldn’t know that I always recommend keeping communication in writing. That’s not to say that I think it should be silent during pick-ups and drop-offs or at kid’s events. It simply means that when it comes to decision-making for your children, keeping it in writing protects both of you. The downside of communicating in writing is there’s room for misinterpretation, but I discuss how to avoid this and how to overcome it in the Co-Parenting Course.

If you have an ex who refuses to put things in writing, it may be harder, but not impossible to overcome. In an effort to keep co-parenting moving forward, and to show your willingness to compromise; it may be ok to discuss these decisions in person or over the phone as long as you document it afterwards. Sending a text or an email letting the other person know that you simply want to recap your conversation keeps everything in writing. Let them know that this is what you got out of the conversation and would love to know if they are on the same page as you.

Filter out what’s not needed.

Once you’re communicating, hopefully in writing, you may get messages filled with attacks, accusations, and/or demands. At that point, it becomes your job to look for anything worth responding to. If you get a 2 page email and 1 ½ of those pages are attacks on you as a person and you as a parent, unless it has to do with the safety of your children, it’s not worth jumping into that cycle. Pull out what needs to be taken care of and let the rest go. Here’s an example of how this works:

You never do his homework. All you care about is having fun with him. You’ve never been responsible and you clearly never will be. I’m tired of having to clean up your messes. If you would just do his homework with him on your nights, his grades wouldn’t be what they are and we wouldn’t have to have another parent/teacher conference.

There’s a lot going on there. Hopefully this doesn’t look familiar to you, but if it does, it’s your job to find what’s worth responding to: grades. You then get to respond in a positive way rather than jumping into a cycle of attacking each other.

When it comes to YOUR communication:

  • Make it brief

  • Make it positive

  • Listen to their side (filtering out the negative)

  • Be willing to compromise

Timelines and making them work

There’s nothing more peaceful or more frustrating than silence from an ex. You do not need to contact or discuss everything with them, but there are times when you need an answer and may not be getting one. In these cases, you can still be positive and give a timeline. For example, if your child is asking to sign up for an extracurricular activity, but you’re dealing with an ex who refuses to reply to you, a message like:

“Hey, (child) wants to get signed up for soccer and I wasn’t sure if they talked to you about it. Here’s the link to the team info, everything you need to know is in there. I’m ok with (child) participating in this as long as grades stay up. Are you ok with participation? I know it may take time to go through the information, so I’ll give until (day) and if I don’t hear, I’ll assume you are on board with it. Thanks.”

Not only is this a positive message, but it ensures you’re not waiting for an answer from someone who does not always answer.

Communication is the toughest issue that co-parents deal with. Comment below with your communication issues.


Communication After Divorce - What to Communicate About

The #1 issue I hear about from co-parents is communication. That’s a broad topic, so I’ll break it down over the next few weeks. This week, we’re going to talk about what is acceptable to expect communication on and what isn’t.

Let’s lay this out. You want to co-parent. You send updates, you ask questions, you try to work things out and you’re met with silence, or worse, attacks. When the tables are turned, you can’t get any information about your children from your ex. The kids come home and tell you what’s going on and you wish the information came from your ex because that’s what’s best for the children. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

It’s frustrating because you’re trying to do the right thing - communicate - and not only do you not get the same in return, you can’t even get important information from your ex.

If you’re in this situation, it’s time to decide what’s considered important information and get some help in ensuring BOTH parents are on the same page with communication. If your Court Order (CO) requires a certain form of communication, then you’re already set. If you’ve already agreed to a form of communication without a CO, that’s great, too. Keep moving on this path.

Then it’s time to decide what is non-negotiable in communication. You and your ex should decide this together, but I understand that this isn’t always possible without help. (We’ll talk about that at the end of the post.) Here are some ideas to help you get started on deciding what you believe should be open for communication:

  • Medical/Dental

  • School-related (e.g. grades, homework, etc.)

  • Extra-curricular activities

  • Religion

  • Significant Other’s

  • Behavior issues

  • Schedules outside of school and extra-curricular (e.g. sleep schedules, medication schedules, summer schedules or non-school day schedules, etc.)

  • Rules/Expectations (this could be everything from co-sleeping agreements to chores your children are responsible for)

  • As kids get older: jobs, driving and dating come up

This is just a simple list. Each of these categories could be broken up even more. Before you start making a list and sending an email over to your ex saying you expect communication on all of this, take a step back. This is the time for you to be the positive co-parent. If your ex has refused communication in the past, is it reasonable to suddenly expect him/her to start communicating on all of this? Probably not. I’d add that it will only frustrate you more to put this expectation on them if it’s not realistic. Start small and work your way up to the list. Prioritize communication. Decide what’s most important to communicate about and then work with your ex to ensure you're both communicating on it. If things start to work better, slowly add more and more to the what you’re communicating about - as long as your ex agrees.

How do you get this agreed on if your ex refuses to talk to you? There’s a 4-step approach I believe in and use myself:

  1. Start with a fact-based, non-confrontational email or text explaining that you’d like to work on communication with your ex and you’re ready to listen to their ideas

  2. If that goes nowhere, mediation or parent coordination is an inexpensive, non-confrontational approach involving a third party to help align communication between you and your ex

  3. If mediation is unsuccessful, and this is a battle you’re willing to continue with, going to court to ask for an addendum to your CO is your next option. Bring your ideas to court, explain mediation was unsuccessful and go from there.

  4. If you’re CO has been updated and communication hasn’t changed, you have the option to file for Contempt. Contact lawyers in your area to learn more about this. (Know that filing for contempt, which is literally ensuring your ex is punished for not following the CO will take any co-parenting relationship back several steps. If they were unwilling to communicate prior to this, they certainly aren’t going to be quick to communicate afterwards. The point of a CO is to protect you and make this option available, but it does hurt positive co-parenting.)

Finally, in some cases, communication just isn’t an option. Short-term or long-term, if communication isn’t an option for you, you are parallel parenting. You can learn more in other blog posts here. Parallel parenting is meant to lessen communication in an effort to give co-parents a break from each other, take away the conflict by removing as much communication as possible, and allow you to focus on your time with your kids and rebuilding your life. Parallel parenting isn’t always permanent and while it’s not the best solution, it’s a helluva  better solution than high-conflict attempts at co-parenting.

From a quiz to tell you exactly what difficult personality type your dealing with to tips for communicating with them, strategies to manage your own frustrations (so you don't become the problem) and general communication ideas for all high-conflict co-parents, this course has it all. 


What To Document and What Not To Document

You already know that when it comes to co-parenting, you NEED TO document everything. There are apps available to help, in the last blog post, our guest Tim from Custody X Change helped us see how a simple journal can help you with documentation, but what exactly do you document?

This week, we’re talking about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to documentation. The approach I take in this post is one of positive co-parenting. As you’re reading this, there will be things you may have a hard time with or may disagree completely with. I encourage you to try these to see what happens long term.

  1. Be detailed! Whether in an app or in a journal, be as detailed as possible. What time of day was this? What was the conversation - including quotes if possible? If things are hearsay, what makes you believe that they’re true? What following-up did you do for any hearsay items?

  2. Don’t send all documentation to your ex. It can be easy to say, “I’m documenting that you (insert anything here)”, but some items are left as simple documentation - just in case. Why is that? When you send every little bit of documentation that you have to your ex, how do you think it would make them feel? It would make them feel attacked, wouldn’t it?

  3. Know your goals. Why are you documenting? Are you documenting in an effort to find every single thing wrong with your ex? Are you documenting just to be on the safe side? Are you documenting because your ex uses court as a way to communicate? If you’re documenting in an effort to pick apart their parenting, I would encourage you to stop documenting right now and take a step back to review the relationship you want to have with your children’s other parent. Documentation should be there just in case, it should be a way to quickly and efficiently review what needs to be reviewed, rather than trying to find things that need to be reviewed.

  4. Document the positives, too. Regardless of who your ex is, if your goal is truly to have a positive co-parenting relationship, document the positive things your ex does for your kids or for you! If your documentation is only negative, what do you think will happen long-term? You’ll be unable to look at your ex with anything other than resentment because all you’ve done is look at what they’re doing wrong.

  5. Remember we all make mistakes. If your ex was documenting everything that he/she saw in you, what would they find? I would argue that they wouldn’t find perfection. We’re all human, your ex included. If they forget to send your children to school with boots and snowpants once in awhile, it may be just that - forgetfulness. If they forget to send them with it every day of winter, then it’s something else. The point is to remember that mistakes happen and just as much as you wouldn’t want your ex reminding you of mistakes you’ve made, they won’t want it either. Which promotes a healthy co-parenting relationship?

Documentation is necessary, but what you document can either help in a positive co-parenting relationship or hurt. Comment below with how you’re documenting and staying organized!

If what I said is something you struggle with. If finding the positives seems impossible to you, you may not be over everything that happened in the divorce. It's OK! There's a free training series that will help you FINALLY move past those feelings. Have this free training sent directly to your inbox below.


Co-Parenting 101: Making the School Year Work

It's a new school year, how are you and your co-parent doing? Are you struggling early on? Do you feel like this is a better year than it has been? Wherever you and your co-parent are, it's time for a game plan for this school year. 

Here are my tips for making it work:

  1. Start Fresh. This is a new year for you as well as a new year for your children. Whatever happened last year or the years prior are simply learning experiences. They're not something to dwell on, this is a new year! If you're telling your children that this is a year to start fresh, it applies to you, too. Let go of the past arguments and go into this year with the knowledge of the last years, but with a fresh attitude towards it.
  2. Update your writing skills. You already know that documentation and communication should be done in writing wherever possible. Do it simply because it protects you. This year, I want you to think about what it is you're writing and follow these steps:
    1. Leave your emotions out of it. Keep it to the facts wherever possible. 
    2. Keep it brief. Your ex will be more likely to read an email that's brief than one that's long and winded.
    3. Be positive. The more accusatory you are, the less likely your email will be read. The more positive you are, the better the chance of moving the conversation forward and accomplishing whatever you need to. 
  3. Focus on what matters. As much as your ex may be driving you insane already this school year, every minute you spend thinking about your ex is a minute you lose thinking about what matters to you. Your ex is going to continue to be your ex. You're divorced for a reason, right? Focus on your children! Focus on providing a home that you can be proud of. Focus on what you have control over. It's not your ex, is it? As long as you focus on what matters, the things your ex does to make it difficult will bother you less and less.
  4. Discover solutions, not problems. It's easy to get caught up in what the problems are (i.e. your ex), but this year - stop focusing on the problem! Instead, ask yourself, "How can I make the best of this situation?" and then do that! The problems will always be there, focusing on the solution moves you past the problem. 

It doesn't matter where you were last year. This is a new year, it's time to start fresh. It's time to take the lessons learned and apply them here while also trying something different. Comment below with what you're going to do this year to make it as successful as you can for your children! 

Kaern Becker, MA Life Coach