Although a split isn’t always simple, it can become even more complicated when you have kids. Because even though your relationship may be over, the committed partnership to each other (as peers and parents) is still alive and well. So as you embrace this new chapter of your life, you may look for some signs you and your ex will make good co-parents. The good news is that you might not have to look too far to find out.
More often than not, the ways to know that your ex will continue to be an awesome parent have probably been displayed in their past behavior. “One of the best signs is that your ex co-parented well prior to becoming your ex,” Julieanne O'Connor, an author and relationship coach, tells Romper. “For example, your ex has already been doing their fair share of parenting the children all along and already knows what to do.”
So whether the break up was amicable (or, um, not), there might be some signs that you and your ex will make good co-parents. But remember that co-parenting is just that — the ability to work together in the best interests of your kids. That means that you’ll both have to do your part in order to make it work, not just for your children, but for you and your ex, too. These signs can give you a clue that you and your ex will be compatibly as co-parents.
1. You’re Able To Work Towards Goals
If you and your partner have been previously able to team up and work together compatibly, it’s a good sign that you’ll make good co-parents. “If you and your ex have been able to work well with shared goals in the past, you both will have a shared goal of raising and cultivating the lives of your children from here on out,” Dr. Jameca Woody Falconer Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, tells Romper.
2. You’re Both Easily Accessible
Since you’re not going to be residing under the same roof anymore, having the ability to connect quickly and easily can help you co-parent properly. “It’s important to have the other co-parent be easily accessible so that both you and the children can reach them and to know that they are available,” says Dr. Falconer. That means being able to have clear communication with your ex, whether it's a call, an email, or a quick text.
3. You’re Both Consistent
Kids need consistency, whether their parents are in a relationship or not. So ask yourself if your ex is reliable, advises Dr. Falconer. “One of the most important traits of co-parenting is being able to maintain routine and structure for the benefit of the children,” she says. “They need to understand that both parents are working together and are on the same team.”
4. You’re Both On The Same Page
Sure, life isn’t perfect, but when it comes to parenting, both you and your ex are on the same page. “If you were on the same page in terms of how you envisioned raising children while you were together, co-parenting should be simplified,” Claire Barber, a relationship expert and family care specialist, tells Romper. That means identifying and valuing the important things for your child, such as their education (or even their eating habits!). “There are some things that just shouldn’t be a battle, especially not with a child in the middle of it all.”
5. You’re Both Respectful Of Each Other
Even if your break up was bitter, a sign that co-parenting will be positive is how he treats you. “It’s important that your ex is honest and has integrity and is respectful to you, even though you have differences,” Elliott Katz, a relationship expert and author of Being the Strong Man A Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom On Being A Man, tells Romper. This positive behavior can help the kids cope with the aftermath of the split.
6. You Both Put The Kids First
Although it’s important to acknowledge your own feelings, what’s even more significant is ensuring the well-being of the kids. “Whether in mediation or in court, when the parents are more interested in talking about what their kids need than about their grievances with each other, then their heads are already in the right place,” Joseph Hoelscher, a managing attorney at Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC law firm, tells Romper. “When only one parent does this, the other parent is likely to lose.” Putting the happiness of our children before your own possible negative feelings is definitely the first step towards peaceful co-parenting.
7. You Both Acknowledge Each Other’s Perspectives
It can be hard to see your ex-partner’s point of view sometimes, but for the sake of the kiddos, you’ll need to try. Says Hoelscher: “They may not agree, but when separating couples can see each other's perspectives and acknowledge when they're reasonable, then there is a basis for respectful communication, which is the key to co-parenting.”
8. You Both Compromise
Compromise is the key to any relationship, and co-parenting is certainly no exception. “As soon as an ex is willing to give up something they want because it's the right thing to do, you know that person is operating in good faith,” says Hoelscher. “For example, agreeing to modify standard holiday visitation out of respect for the other side's traditions is a strong sign that you're dealing with someone who wants to make things work.”
Listen, it's never going to be an easy road after a break up. But you and your ex can make the split more seamless by working together amicably and putting your kids' best interests first.
Julieanne O'Connor, author and relationship coach
Dr. Jameca Woody Falconer Ph.D., licensed psychologist
Claire Barber, a relationship expert and family care specialist
Elliott Katz, a relationship expert and author
Joseph Hoelscher, managing attorney at Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC law firm