Co-Parenting Red Flags

Parenting is not an easy task to begin with, it doesn’t come with a manual and no one really knows if they’ve “got it right” until the kids are adults and telling you about all the times you messed up. (They’ll have their turn as parents and we’ll sit back and smile) When you add separation or divorce in the mix, it makes it more difficult to navigate effectively. You are not only trying to parent but doing so for one or more children from two homes.  Making sure that your co-parent as well as yourself are building one another up and encouraging one another is key to a healthy co-parenting relationship. Unfortunately, life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns so there are those high-conflict situations. This is usually because one parent cannot let go of “what was” in the past relationship and look towards making the future better for the children involved. You can recognize your co-parenting relationship as high-conflict if it involves some of the 10 issues below. As in any relationship, even co-parenting, there are many more issues not addressed, but this is so you get a feeling of what red flags to look out for.


1.     Holding grudges and being bitter towards your co-parent due to a failed relationship or marriage. This is acting off the emotions of the adult rather than putting the child’s best interest first.


2.     Withholding or delaying child support payments or what I call using money as a weapon. Some parents think that children are property to barter for what they want. This is a HUGE red flag in any relationship.


3.     Changing divorce lawyers often in order to delay the process and accumulate more debt and legal fees. This is usually seen when one person wants the other to pay for wanting out of the relationship. They need to heal and learn to move on, NEVER stay where you’re not wanted!


4.     Taking non-legal issues to court to be spiteful or making false reports to police and courts about drug use, violence, or criminal activity. This should be prosecuted more often than it is because it’s not fair to the children or anyone involved. This is just petty and immature on the part of anyone willing to participate in such an act.


5.     Refusing to share information about the children’s health, schooling, or activities with your co-parent. I have witnessed this backfire so many times because it only hurts the child. Imagine how it must feel when your child is at an event and looks into the crowd and don’t see their other parent.


6.     Last-minute changes in plans to purposely make things difficult for your co-parent. I remember I once booked an entire trip, paid for it and planned everything out with the co-parent in advance. The day before the trip my bonus-child was not allowed to go and the biological mother was “all of a sudden” unreachable. I never understood hurting your own children, we must do better!


7.     Unwarranted distrust of the other parent as an excuse not to allow the other parent time with the child. Just remember, they were a good parent when they still wanted to be with you…


8.     Constant arguing about things that cannot be proved just to get a reaction. Many co-parents that are miserable themselves will making up issues to argue about in order to have a reason to talk to the other co-parent or upset them. Remember misery loves company, decline the invitation.


9.     They don’t respect your decisions. Respect is key in any relationship, but when you add children to the equation, it’s even more essential. How can you expect to raise respectful children if the two of you cannot model respect when it comes to their best interest?

Make sure you are not undermining your co-parent or going behind their back on issues with the children. It is important to remain unified on important issues as co-parenting requires you to both be on the same page and to trust each other. The children take notice when you two are divided and will play on that.


10.  They are Violent. Most likely if you have a co-parent that yells, belittles you, or even becomes physically violent, this is the reason you are divorced now. In this instance you need to get help immediately and may warrant intervention by the court system. Remember, this is someone with influence over your children and if they can’t control their emotions, they will only do more damage than good.  


Hopefully, you can catch these red flags along with others early and secure professional coaching or counseling to help turn the situation around. Learn to put your personal feelings aside for the best interest of the children involved. This is what makes a healthy parent and co-parenting relationship work.


-Miss Kris

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