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10 Ways to Navigate Your New Co-Parenting Relationship

Steal our ideas for healthy boundary setting with your ex.

healthy co-parenting boundaries
Advice

If you think becoming a parent means relearning how to communicate with your partner, co-parenting is on a whole different level. You’re creating a new relationship structure with your former partner, and there will be a lot of change for everyone involved. Odds are you’ve evolved, your ex has evolved, and you have a new world to take on. Navigating your kids’ schedules—full of after-school activities and events—requires a lot of planning and communication in the midst of adjusting your lifestyle.

Occasionally, there will be conflicts and stress between you and your ex, which is why setting healthy boundaries is essential. Boundaries don’t have to be rigid or hard-set rules to follow. Rather, they can act as guidelines at the start of your relationship or become something you follow for years. It’s not an easy journey, but if you find yourself looking for examples of healthy co-parenting boundaries, read on.

1. Stay neutral

Running into your ex after a breakup is hard, and having kids with them makes it even more difficult. You’ll inevitably see them, hear stories about them from your kids, and—even harder sometimes—learn if they’ve moved on. Navigating this road won’t be easy, but staying as neutral as possible is important. Neutrality helps reduce the stress put on your kids during this time, as well. If anything, setting this boundary for yourself will help you move forward.

2. Communicate often

Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries requires a lot of communication, especially at the start. You may feel like pulling away from your ex as you navigate your new relationship status, but overcommunicating important information and details about your kids is necessary.

Lucky for us, we live in a digital world where talking with your ex is not limited to just a phone call. Today, you can customize your communication style and methods how you choose. Text messages, group chats, messaging apps, and social media platforms enable communication in different ways. Plus, there are tons of free texting apps available to help make things easier.

Looking for the best co-parenting app to improve your communication? Try HeyFam, the first messaging app designed for families, built by Chatbooks.

3. Choose a parenting style together

Now that you and your ex won’t constantly be in the same house, you’ll inevitably have to handle situations with your kids alone. Do you want to be authoritative? Permissive? No matter what you prefer, decide on a parenting style with your ex. Then, when you’re navigating situations on your own, you know that your kids aren’t getting conflicting messages.

4. Don’t speak poorly of your ex in front of your kids

This one’s hard, especially if the separation was painful. As tempting as it will be to say negative things about your ex in front of everyone, avoid it as much as possible with your kids. Kids pick up more than we realize, and in the end, your ex is still their parent. Setting this boundary with your ex from the start will help you hold each other accountable for negative commentary.

5. Be respectful of your ex’s time (don’t blow up their phone constantly)

Chances are your ex won’t be in the next room or down the hall 24/7, and you shouldn’t act like they are. Unless it’s a kid-related emergency, it’s important to be respectful of your ex’s time. They will have plans and schedules that you no longer have visibility into, and that’s okay. Set this boundary to give both you and your ex a break.

6. Try not to put your kids in the middle

Your kids are not part of your one-on-one relationship with your ex. They don’t need to run messages back and forth constantly because you don’t want to hear your ex’s voice. Of course, there will be times when you can have your kids share information or ask questions, but avoid only using them as your method of communication. Having this boundary with your ex will also make this new normal easier for your kids to accept, too.

Free texting apps, like HeyFam, are a great way to avoid this. With HeyFam you can create separate rooms for different topics like drop-offs, school events, summer break activities, and more. This keeps communication open between you and your ex while taking the pressure off your kids (and makes it easy to keep all the details organized!).

7. Keep your co-parenting relationship focused on your kids

There’s a high probability that your ex will move on with someone new, you’ll have a challenging day at work, or one of you will try a new restaurant and want to share. But sharing emotional weight can lead to a deeper emotional connection, making it hard for you both to move on. When it comes to co-parenting, keep your relationship with your ex focused on your kids. Don’t get too personal.

8. Include your co-parent in your kids’ life

Your ex is still your kids’ parent. Your kids will still see them often and want to include their parents in their life. Even though it will be hard, it’s important to be supportive of your ex’s role in your child’s life. Do what you can to make their parenting job easier (and expect them to do the same). Sharing little updates on your child’s day, mood, mentions of new favorite foods, or gifts they want for birthdays and holidays will make everyone’s job easier in the end.

9. Share photos of your kids

Photos are a great way to keep communication open with your ex. Did your daughter lose her first tooth while staying with you? Was your ex not able to attend your son’s big game? Send a pic! This keeps your ex in the loop on life’s little moments and helps them stay connected with your kids too.

Co-parenting apps are a great way to enable photo sharing. The best co-parenting apps should have good photo-sharing capability. For example, HeyFam has high-resolution photo sharing across any device (iOS or Android). Apps like this mean you can also include your ex’s family or new relationships if they want.

10. Set a schedule and stick to it (be flexible but try to stick with it)

If courts are involved, chances are you’ll have scheduled time with your kid. If not, create a schedule with your ex. Schedules and routines can be helpful to navigate change, especially for kids. Of course, there may be times when you need to adjust your schedule and that’s okay. As long as you have open communication with your ex, being flexible should be easy.

Setting these healthy co-parenting boundaries can feel overwhelming (and occasionally unnecessary). But in the end, you’ll be glad you discussed these with your ex sooner rather than later. Boundaries like these help decrease conflict, lower stress, and increase your sense of control when situations escalate. Navigating your new relationship status won’t be easy, and that’s where these co-parenting boundaries help.

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