Trying to recast your relationship to your ex isn't easy under any circumstances. After all, it's perfectly understandable to not want to have a lot to do with each other after breaking up as a couple.
But when you have a child to parent, it is very important to the child that you and your ex find ways to be the best co-parents you can be together. Doing this is critical for the emotional and psychological well-being of your kid(s).
Psychologists say there are a handful of different types that co-parents tend to fall into. In this post, we will discuss those types and ask you the key question: Which one are you?
A range of styles
There is plenty of complicated research on the impact of divorce on children. Though the research isn't easy to summarize, it seems fair to say that minor children have a better chance to be well-adjusted emotionally when their parents can interact well despite divorcing.
To be sure, interacting positively with an ex under such circumstances is easier said than done. People fall along a spectrum of responses, ranging from highly accommodating to downright oppositional.
In the 90's, a psychologist named Constance Ahrons suggested that there are four main types of co-parents. Other psychologists have built on and refined the descriptions of these types.
On the amicable end, there are couples who are perfect pals/facilitating friends. At the other end are enmeshed enemies/fiery foes.
In between are accommodating allies/cooperative colleagues and reluctant rivals/angry associates.
There is also a fifth type: parents who no longer interact with each other at all. These parents could be called dissolved duos.
Benefits of staying positive
The benefits of having a more cooperative, friendly relationship with your ex are many. They are both immediately tangible and something that builds over the long term in making good outcomes more likely for your children.
In the short term, an amicable relationship with your ex makes it easier to work out things like summer vacation plans.
In the longer term, modeling good communication will help your kids on many levels. It will promote stable emotional attachments to both parents and help everyone move forward in fruitful ways despite the pain of divorce.
What type of divorced parenting partner are you? We hope that this piece helps you to pose that question and take steps toward the future you want to create.
To be sure, there are challenges ahead. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. If your ex is not willing or able to be amicable, you have to acknowledge that and act accordingly. There may, for example, be substance abuse issues or personality disorders that get in the way of amicable intentions.
No matter what your precise circumstances, a knowledgeable attorney can guide you forward as you forge a new family structure.