There’s a line from a Robert Frost poem about how good fences make good neighbors, and while it was penned back in 1914, the idea is still relevant today. Those who set boundaries and recognize others’ boundaries are more likely to get along. This is especially true for divorced parents trying to make it work as a new co-parent following a divorce.
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While co-parenting boundaries may not be as obvious or clear-cut as a fence, it’s important to create and uphold personal boundaries around the behavior that you will and will not accept within your co-parenting relationship. This is for the good of your spouse, your children, and yourself.
So, what are boundaries, and how can you establish boundaries in your personal co-parenting arrangement? Below, we’re sharing helpful information to determine your boundaries and some common co-parent boundaries that you may want to consider.
What Are Boundaries How to Determine Them
Boundaries can be a bit of a mystery to those not familiar with the term.
The easiest to understand are physical boundaries, such as what is appropriate in terms of physical contact. We often teach these kinds of boundaries to our children.
When we get into emotional and relational boundaries, however, the lines can get blurry. These kinds of boundaries keep us safe from mental and emotional harm, and within your co-parenting relationship, they may also keep you developing feelings of bitterness, anger, or resentment.
To determine what your boundaries should be, think about the times when you have felt uncomfortable, disrespected, or offended by your ex. Those feelings likely came about because they crossed a boundary for you, whether you realized you had it or not. You can work backward from these instances to determine what happened to trigger that response, and then develop a personal boundary to prevent that triggered response from happening again.
Common Co-Parenting Boundaries
While every family and parental situation is different, there are some common co-parenting boundaries that you may be able to incorporate into your life to create a greater sense of control and protection.
● Parenting Plan – This is a great place to start, as this legal document contains boundaries set by the courts for things like summer break and holidays, co-parenting schedule, and alimony. The more detail you can include or identify in your plan, the less risk there will be for conflict or crossing lines.
● Children-Focused Communication – While it would be great for exes to get along and be friends, that’s not always the case, nor is it always the best idea. Instead, keep communication between you and your ex focused on the children. There’s no need to discuss your weekend plans or details of your personal life unless it’s necessary.
● Keep Your Kid Out of It – It’s never a good idea to put your child in between their parents. Don’t ask children to keep secrets, pick sides, or divulge information about your ex.
● Speak Positively – As hard as it might be, try your best to say positive things about your ex or give them the benefit of the doubt if an issue occurs. If it gets tough, it’s best not to say anything if you can’t think of anything nice to say.
A Smoother Path to Co-Parenting With Alternative Divorce
Co-parenting doesn’t have to be hostile. If you and your spouse are looking to divorce in a manner that will preserve the integrity of your family and keep things as amicable as possible, collaborative divorce and divorce mediation are two great options you should consider. These alternative divorce routes can minimize post-divorce conflict and set the stage for productive communication and personal boundaries before co-parenting even begins.
To schedule a mediation or learn more about collaborative divorce, contact Natalie Baird Mediations & Collaborative Divorce at your convenience.