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Good co-parenting requires a team


Q: My husband talks too much to his ex. Every time there is the slightest issue with the kids, they are on the phone chatting it up. It drives me crazy. Exes simply shouldn’t talk this much. All my friends agree with me and say it’s unnatural. He said I should write you and tell you my concerns, so I am. You can’t possibly condone all this ex conversation. What’s good ex-etiquette?

A: I can’t tell from your email if your husband really does interact too much with his ex. I can tell you, however, that good co-parenting does require a lot of interaction, and if this isn’t addressed right from the beginning, there can be problems.

When someone doesn’t feel they are getting support at home, they vent to their friends, who love them and want to support them but really don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. Or, in this case, understand the co-parenting dynamic. And it’s not out of the ordinary for all this advice to fall back on that old-school divorce philosophy of “Don’t talk to your ex.” But how can you do that when you share custody, and the kids live in both your homes?

This is why it is so important to be honest right from the beginning. That way, if there are growing pains and adjustments on both your parts, you work on them BEFORE you move in together and subject the children to additional chaos. If it boils down to you not able to accept the parental interaction, you don’t go forward.

I know that sounds quite cut and dry. If you love someone, you don’t want to walk away. But if you don’t agree with their basic philosophy of life — in this case, how they co-parent their children — that’s a huge hurdle to jump.

The reason I am taking this tack is because of something you said in your email. “Every time there is the slightest issue with the kids.” That’s the key, right there. They aren’t making coffee dates. They are talking about the kids. And, if you live there, you have a huge influence on the kids as well.

You and your husband may even have children of your own eventually who will be their brothers or sisters, and it will be essential to coordinate efforts. Knowing this, don’t exclude yourself. This is a team effort.

You have taken on quite a responsibility marrying someone with children who actively co-parents. Don’t give up yet. You may have to work with a professional to help you better understand your part in all of it, but at face value, it sounds like he’s doing what’s necessary to raise children after a breakup. That’s good ex-etiquette.

Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, This column was provided by Tribune News Service.


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