Co-parenting with someone you’re in the midst of divorcing can be a big challenge, especially when you need to plan and communicate with them about your children. Here are some tips to help you keep your conversations productive and in the best interest of your children.

By Carolyn Ellis

The roles of husband and wife may dissolve when the divorce papers get signed, but the roles of being mother and father to your children are life-long commitments and responsibilities. Some may be fortunate enough to have good working relationships with their ex-wife or ex-husband. Others may have an ex-spouse who is not involved at all in the children’s lives, essentially leaving you holding the bag for being the solo parent. Unfortunately, in too many cases the relationship with the ex-spouse can be stressful and problematic, like a festering wound that never heals.

Learning how to co-parent successfully requires that you treat your relationship more like a business partner, where your common goal is successfully raising loving, responsible and healthy children. Here are 5 tips to help ensure your communication with your ex-spouse is productive and keep the focus on doing what’s in the best interest of your children.

1. None Of Your Business

Realize that what your ex-partner thinks of you is no longer any of your business. The degree to which you continue to respond and react to what your ex thinks, says or does is the degree to which you help create your own suffering. Don’t let how you communicate and make requests of your ex be tainted by old reactivity and wounds.

2. Establish Communication Agreements

Communication is a skill we need to develop consciously and with intent. Set up structures and agreements for how you will speak with your ex-partner. Set up an agenda. Remember that a big part of communication success is listening.

3. Set Healthy Boundaries

If you’re co-parenting with your ex-spouse, try to develop more of a business partner relationship with each other. Be willing to set healthy boundaries so you can disentangle some of those old, emotional ties. For example, talking about children’s after school programs is a great agenda item. Your personal romantic lives, post-divorce, is a topic that might add salt into wounds.

4. Pick Your Battles

Co-parenting is exhausting if you go to the wall on every single issue that arises. Learn to become strategic. You’ll need to have some give and take in your relationship with your ex-spouse, particularly if you are co-parents. Get clear on what are core issues for you, and identify where you’re willing to compromise and build good will for the long run.

5. Get Support When You Need It

If you reach an impasse with your ex-spouse, get help when you need it. You may need to enlist a third party (counselor, mediator, lawyer, etc) to help you resolve difficult issues.

CE Pitfalls coverCarolyn Ellis is the Founder of and She is an award-winning coach, transformational expert and author of the award-winning The Divorce Resource Kit and The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What to Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive After Divorce. Combining her deep intuitive abilities with her Harvard-trained brain, Carolyn specializes in helping individuals navigate change and uncertainty by tapping into their own inner brilliance and emotional resilience. To learn more or to book a session, please visit