There are numerous reasons why couples would separate, but still maintain their shared duties of raising their children. While this can already be more complicated than typical parenting, co-parenting can even become more difficult when you are co-parenting with someone who hurt you.
Prioritizing the child should be the focus when co-parenting with someone who hurt you. Even if the separation was amicable, you must separate the personal relationship from the co-parenting relationship and keep the kid out of the middle.
Raising a child needs the cooperation of a team and you need to trust your co-parent to do so. You must allow yourself to heal and seeking support is an incredibly helpful way to do so.
This article will discuss the several rules you need to know to make raising your children easier when it comes to co-parenting with someone who hurt you.
Rules for Co-Parenting With Someone Who Hurt You
1. Prioritize the Child
Typically, people stay away from one another after a breakup. While some people can stay as friends, most would rather avoid one another, especially when one was hurt by the other. Unfortunately, avoiding one another is not an option for those who are co-parenting.
While you would rather not ever see the person who hurt you, you must understand why that is not an option for you. One of the best ways to go about this is by prioritizing your child.
You simply want what is best for your kid and that means giving them access to both their parents. While it may be an uncomfortable situation for you, remember that it is part of a parent’s job to do whatever they can for their children.
Prioritizing the children is one of the most common ways parents push themselves in difficult situations, such as co-parenting with someone who hurt you.
2. Allow Yourself to Heal
Being a parent is already difficult, even when doing it with someone you love. You must remember that while you need to prioritize your child, prioritizing yourself is important too. The quality of your parenting will depend on how you are; thus, it is important for you to allow yourself to heal.
Going through a breakup is never easy. People typically allow themselves to heal after a breakup by giving themselves time and space from their ex. Unfortunately, that may not be a viable option when you are co-parenting with your ex.
Regardless, you must allow yourself to heal however you can. While you still have to meet and communicate with your ex to effectively co-parent, you can limit your communications to co-parenting matters exclusively. You also do not have to spend time with them if you do not need to.
You should also capitalize on the time you have with yourself. While your kid is with your co-parent, you can focus on yourself. What do you do to move on from a breakup and heal? Do you listen to music? Do you read books? Spend time with your friends? Whatever you need to do, do them when you have the time.
Another important aspect of allowing yourself to heal is by setting boundaries. Boundaries in co-parenting can mean respecting each other’s schedules with the children, ignoring hurtful or toxic messages from the other co-parent, and limiting communication to parenting matters.
3. Separate the Personal Relationship from the Co-Parenting Relationship
Parenting can be considered to be quite an intimate and personal job. Parents pour themselves into their children, molding them into what they believe they should be. With such intimacy, it is understandable how it could be difficult doing so with someone who hurt you.
For all intents and purposes, parenting is indeed a job – it is a full-time job. It is an exhausting job that takes up your time and energy, leaves you with a ton of responsibilities, and does not even pay you at the end of the month. However, thinking about co-parenting as a job might help you get through it.
One way to help you co-parent with someone who hurt you is by separating the personal relationship from the co-parenting relationship. Think of it as a job that must be done, even if you do not like your coworkers.
Separating the personal relationship from the co-parenting relationship can take multiple forms. For example, you do not and cannot have a say on who your co-parent dates. In the same vein, your co-parent cannot influence who you want to date as well.
Additionally, keeping the personal relationships from the co-parenting relationships also means having an air of professionalism. While you should not complain about your co-parent simply because you do not like them, you can express your concerns if they are not doing their share of co-parenting.
4. Keep the Kid Out of the Middle
One of the worst things about co-parenting with someone who hurt you is that the chances of a bad interaction are higher. Compared to co-parents who went on their separate ways amicably, bad blood between you and your co-parent might lead to arguments and disagreements.
While you may not be able to totally avoid these types of negative interactions, it is important to keep the kid out of the middle. Examples of keeping the kid out of the middle include not fighting in front of them, not using them for communication, not talking badly about your co-parent in front of the kid, etc.
While being separated from your co-parent might feel stressful, remember how much more stressful the situation can be for your children. These kids have been exposed to fairytales talking about how love conquers all. Being co-parented can be a harsh wake-up call children are not mature enough to get.
Thus, you must do the best you can to keep your kid out of the middle. Keeping them out of the middle will lessen the effects they feel of being co-parented, preventing them from feeling too different from their friends.
Even if the co-parent has hurt you, you must prevent yourself from talking badly about them. Even if your kids complain about the co-parent, you cannot pile on. You can express how sorry you are about how they feel and ask them if they have expressed these feelings to the co-parent.
You must also avoid making your kids choose a side. Even if your co-parent is the villain in your story, they are not necessarily the villain to your kids. It would be unfair to take the children away from your co-parent because of how you feel.
5. Be a Team
Co-parenting takes time and effort to make things work. Even though you may not enjoy it, you still have to be a team with your co-parent. Even though it may be difficult, remember who you are doing this for – your children.
Even though you are co-parenting with someone who hurt you, even though you are parenting separately, you are still both parents. That means that you both still need to work together toward raising your children.
When co-parents do not work as a team, they risk being taken advantage of by the children. Since uncooperating co-parents have different rules, the kids can take advantage of rules that benefit them the most. For example, they might ask permission to go to concerts from dad even though they know mom would say no.
Being a team means cooperating with one another when it comes to parenting. You cannot parent your kids one way and have your co-parent do it a different way. This diminishes both of your efforts and simply confuses the kids.
To make sure that your children will completely understand the rules of both houses, it is easier when the rules are the same across households. Having aligned parenting philosophies with your co-parent is paramount as children respond well to consistency.
Being a team also means coordinating with one another enough. It means that both of you know where your kids are and what they are doing at all times. Coordinating these details shows respect to one another, and it also helps alleviate worry when the kids are away from one co-parent.
6. Allow Yourself to Trust Your Co-Parent
It can be difficult, especially with someone who has hurt you before, but you have to learn and allow yourself to trust your co-parent. Understand that your child might be spending half of their time with your co-parent. You cannot do this easily if you do not trust your co-parent.
Understandably, it will be difficult. Trusting someone who hurt you is not easy for anyone. However, this is not a typical relationship because you are both co-parents as well. One way to allow yourself to trust your co-parent is by compartmentalizing your trust.
Compartmentalizing trust means that you can trust your co-parent in a limited capacity. For example, you may not trust them on a personal level again after they have hurt you. However, if they are a good parent to your kids, then you can still trust them to be just that.
Just because they hurt you, it does not mean they will hurt your kids as well. Though you may worry, you will have to give them the benefit of the doubt. It will be a different story if they cannot be trusted to take care of the kids as well.
Trust is necessary for all relationships, even co-parenting relationships. You will need to trust your co-parent when they tell you they will drop off the kids at your place at a certain time. You will need to trust your co-parent that they will keep the children safe.
7. Seek Support
After everything is said and done, it is important to accept that you are in a difficult position. While some may be able to handle it on their own, it can be easier to find support.
Firstly, there are support groups for people who co-parent. These are groups of individuals who understand the challenges of co-parenting. Joining groups such as these can give you an opportunity to learn from others and find effective methods of co-parenting that can work for you.
When you join co-parenting support groups, it should not take you too long to find people who are going through the exact things as you. Finding individuals that are going through the same things can be incredibly helpful as you can form a tribe of people who can support and uplift you.
You can use the Support Group Locator of Psychology Today to find coparenting support groups near you. For those who are unable to find support groups nearby, online support groups are available as well.
Aside from support groups, you can also seek support in the form of therapy. Healing can be done in a number of ways and talking about your problems, emotions, and thoughts with a professional can be quite helpful as well.