It doesn't matter whether you're married or not, there comes a point in a child's life where parents differ on how to handle a situation.  A good example of this is technology.  Let's say your child is turning 10 and every child in their grade has a cell phone.  Maybe Dad wants to get a cell phone for their child, but Mom is against it until they're 13.  What happens now?  When parents are together, it's something that needs to be resolved because they all live in one place.  When parents are co-parenting from different locations, however, they don't necessarily have to resolve it before action happens because Dad could go out and buy a cell phone without Mom even knowing.  Obviously we know this only creates confusion for the child involved.  It may make the child feel sorry for Mom because Mom was left out of it.  It may make the child feel like they never have to listen at Mom's because they like Dad's rules better.  There's a lot of different negative outcomes to this scenario, so what do you do?

First, accept that just because you're divorced or broken up, that you don't get rid of the other person.  You get to parent with them for as long as you are parenting your children.  This means that you can't make decisions for your children without first consulting the other parent, as hard as that may be for you.

Second, listen.  When there's a lot of tension between co-parents, no one wants to listen.  it seems the parents feel they either "win" or "lose", but parenting isn't a competition.  It's about raising your children in the best way possible.  Listen to why Mom doesn't want to get a cell phone until 13, maybe she has some valid points.  If she has valid points, that doesn't mean you lose, it means she has valid points.  On the flip side, Mom needs to listen to Dad to hear why he would like to get one now.  He may have some valid points.  That doesn't mean Mom loses, it means Dad may have some valid points.

Finally, do what's best for your child, not what's going to upset the other parent most.  No one knows your child better than you two do so, if you're able to put your pride aside, there's no reason you can't come together and figure out what's best for your child.  Compromise will be had by both of you and that teaches your child how to handle conflict, in addition to doing what's best for them.

Karen Becker is an author, speaker and personal growth coach.  She has a Master's Degree in Counseling and applies these skills when coaching clients.  She has years of experience coaching clients in all areas of life: parenting, co-parenting after divorce and in personal growth/wellness.  She can be reached at

Kaern Becker, MA Life Coach