8 Easy Ways To Approach Co-Parenting With A Difficult Ex

Co-parenting with a difficult ex isn’t impossible. Try these easy tips to get you and your ex on the same page and eliminate unnecessary conflict.

Raising kids is a demanding task as it is. Add in the challenge of co-parenting with a difficult ex and you’ve got the potential for a lot of unnecessary drama. It’s challenging, but not impossible to have a (mostly) peaceful relationship.

The great news is that many women have already pioneered this road. Single moms have shared their best advice for dealing with a resistant ex-partner, and we’re here to pass on their wisdom.

What is Co Parenting?

Co-parenting is when separated parents share the responsibilities of raising children. Raising children is challenging, so there are many benefits to having a partner to help do the job.

But when the other parent is unreasonable, it adds stress to the relationship. Here are some useful tips shared by other single moms for effective co-parenting with a difficult ex.

8 Tips For How to Co Parent With A Difficult Ex

1.     Process Lingering Feelings

It’s understandable if you are still harboring anger and pain from your breakup. Give yourself the time and space to heal by venting to friends or going to therapy. Do whatever it takes to reclaim any power your ex has over your emotional wellbeing.

With that being said, there are some coping mechanisms you should avoid. Resist the urge to criticize your ex in front of your kids. This will only make them feel like they need to take sides.

Going through a separation is trying on kids. You can prevent extra stress by sparing them the negative sentiment you feel for your ex.

2.     Set Clear Boundaries and Expectations

If you want to successfully co parent with a difficult ex, it’s important to set some ground rules from the beginning. You can’t control who they date, or what they choose to do with their time. But one thing you can control is whether your boundaries are known and respected.

Establish a business-like tone in your communication. Be assertive about what’s acceptable and unacceptable behavior in your book.

Make sure both you and your ex are clear on what is expected of each of you. This includes things like homework help, picking up the kids from practice, or feeding them dinner. If there are any misunderstandings or crossed wires, they can quickly become a point of contention.

3.     Establish an Open Line of Communication

This is probably the most important step in any type of relationship – but especially when you’re dealing with a difficult ex. If you can keep the lines of communication open, it will be much easier to resolve any issues that come up.

Try not to shut your ex out, and be prepared to listen (even if you don’t always agree).

Establishing when and how you will communicate with each other can help keep things running more smoothly. Communicate regularly about when and how you’ll share time with the kids.

Ideally, you want to communicate in a way that is easy to document such as text, email, or co-parenting app. Make decisions that will impact your children’s schedule and lifestyle together, like changing schools or moving.

4.     Keep Communication Civil

Co-parenting with a toxic ex can turn into all-out war if you let it. Make a point to talk calmly and openly, without any resentment or blame.

Try to phrase what you need as requests rather than demands to keep the energy as positive as it can be. If your ex starts to push your buttons, politely end the conversation and step away from it.

Most importantly, don’t use the kids as messengers. This puts children in an awkward and often stressful position. Information can get lost or misinterpreted this way. Always communicate directly with each other.

5.     Create Consistency

Find ways to create consistency between your households. Effective co parents need to agree on rules and expectations for their children Align on things like discipline and bedtime.

Your children will find it much easier to transition between households when they know you both expect the same things.

6.     Disagree Behind Closed Doors

There are bound to be times when you and your ex can’t get on the same page. When this happens, always disagree in private. Arguing in front of your children will only upset them. You should appear as a united front even if you’re secretly butting heads.

The most important thing is to stay calm and positive when dealing with a difficult ex. You want your kids to feel confident that they can come to either parent if they need support.

To avoid unnecessary altercations, do your best to let go of the small stuff. If bedtimes are later than they should be, it’s best not to push the issue too far. When it comes to your co-parenting relationship, you have to choose which battles are worth your time and energy.

7.     Keep Everyone Accountable with Documentation

Unfortunately, there may come a time when you need thorough documentation about your co-parenting plans. Keep yourself covered by keeping track of all visitation and child support agreements.

When you agree to a co-parenting schedule or make changes to it, always document it. Keep detailed records when it comes to child support payments, and note any missed payments immediately. There’s no such thing as too much documentation when it comes to co-parenting with a difficult ex.

8.     Get a Mediator

When all else fails, get yourself an excellent lawyer and mediator. This may be necessary if you and your ex can’t agree on visitation schedules or child payment agreements.

Having an unbiased third party to help guide the negotiations can be incredibly helpful. It may prevent either of you from going to court.

Co-parenting can be a trying process, but it’s not impossible. Maintain strong communication and keep expectations consistent. Communication is key in making this work so don’t hesitate to speak up when something isn’t working. But remember that compromising will get both parents closer to their goal of raising happy healthy kids.

Were these tips helpful? What tips do you have for a healthy co-parenting relationship? Let us know in the comments below Single Mom Spot mamas will use any tips we can get!



My name is Jenna and I am the founder of Single Mom Spot. I've been a single mom for almost 10 years now. I'm a Christian and mama to two kids that I love like crazy. I started this site because I know how difficult single motherhood can be...and also, how beautiful. I believe that single motherhood helped make me into the best version of myself as a woman and mom. My hope, is that through a connection point like Single Mom Spot, women can share their experiences and grow together. What an amazing thing if every single mom could live her best life as a woman and mother right now, in the middle of her most challenging life circumstance. How bold. How beautiful. How unforgettable. Thank you for reading and supporting Single Mom Spot.