Separation, co-parenting and communication – tips and ground rules

Children’s needs change as they grow older, as will their relationship with each parent, their wider family and friends.  This can be challenging enough parenting in a relationship, let alone learning to co-parent when separated.

Like it or not, you and your ex will be in each other’s lives to some extent, until your child reaches adulthood, and beyond. That’s a long time to prolong the heartache that comes with bad communication and difficult conversations, for yourselves and more importantly your children. With that in mind, it’s important to try to put aside your feelings towards one another and focus on doing the best job that you can do to co-parent your children, albeit under separate roofs, living separate lives.

Co-parenting is not easy and takes effort on both parts.

Key things to make sure that you discuss with your co-parent:

Some of the important things to talk about with your ex from the outset, and regularly long-term, include:

  • Arrangements for the children – including where the children will live, and the time they will spend with each parent;
  • Special events – how will birthdays, Christmas etc be celebrated, and who will be there;
  • Boundaries and discipline – make sure that rules are the same in both households, so that the children have clear routines and structures;
  • Activities and interests – what is your child in to and how can you ensure these activities can continue in two separate homes;
  • Successes and achievements – take time to discuss these, so that you are each in the loop about what your child is doing, and to enable you both to provide praise and feedback.

Tips for a successful co-parenting relationship

  • Use positive language. Children are like sponges and little ears absorb everything you say. As hard as it may be, remember that your ex is still your child’s other parent, and be conscious of the impact that speaking badly of them in front of your child may have upon your child’s wellbeing. Agree not to speak badly of one another to or in front of your child, and to promote open conversations and positive talk at home about the other parent.
  • Keep emotions out of it. Make sure that your conversations about parenting are kept separate from any other discussions – this will help you think clearly and keep the focus on what is best for your children. If you have other adult issues to talk about, such as finances, make sure that you allocate a separate time to talk about that so that these conversations don’t encroach on discussions about your child.
  • Stay calm. Resist the temptation to rise to the bait if your ex says something to upset you. You will each know the other’s weak spots – resist the urge to exploit those.
  • Think it through. How can you best communicate with one another? If communications are not great at the moment, how can these be improved? Would a third party, such as a mediator, be able to help facilitate discussions? Consider setting boundaries or ground rules as to how your conversations will be managed.


Many people feel that a parenting agreement is a beneficial tool for formally recording their agreement about key aspects of their children’s lives, such as schooling, time with each parent, activities, mealtimes, communication, boundaries.

To discuss arrangements for your children, options for reaching an agreement with your ex or parenting agreements, please get in touch.


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