Divorced With Kids? 20 Co-Parenting Tips

divorced with kids

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

Isn’t the concept of being divorced with kids kind of ironic? Think about it. You and your spouse decide you don’t want to live together any longer, you want to get divorced, you don’t want to be a couple, and chances are the amount of resentment, anger and animosity you have towards each other is off the charts.


Yet you have these people you created together and have raised thus far, who each of you loves with all of your hearts. So now, regardless of how hard you try to avoid each other, how much you cringe at the site of one another, how much he or she annoys you, and how much you wish he or she would move to Australia, because of your children you are stuck. Stuck like two people being stuck in an elevator who can’t go anywhere until help arrives (or in your case until the kids are grownups and even then, you will have to see your ex if they get married, if they have kids who have birthday parties, etc. etc.)


The Essentials to Healing After Divorce - Mini Course


So, when I read this reader’s comment, I couldn’t help but feel the irony of being divorced with kids at its fullest:


I think it would be easier if I did not have to regularly interact with my ex. We share 50/50 physical and legal custody. Any advise?


Here is my advice: Of course it would be easier! Because people who get divorced harbor resentment and bitterness and anger, it sometimes feels like life would be so much better if you never again had to lay eyes on this horrible, evil person who hurt you so unbelievably badly, who ripped your heart out of your chest and stomped on it, who ruined your life and who aggravates and causes you anxiety every time he or she appears. Am I right?


But the harsh reality is that if you share custody of your kids and if you care about their well being (which you do, of course) you have to make being divorced with kids work. Some how, some way.


Now, how does one do that? Hmm…that isn’t an easy question but my one sentence answer for coping with being divorced with kids is this:

Love your kids more than you hate your ex. It’s as simple as that.


What does that mean? It means:

1. Gritting your teeth when your ex does or says something that makes you want to scream your head off.


The Center for Divorce Recovery


2. Avoiding bringing up the past and talking about what happened when you were married, what he or she did to you, etc.

3. Not making accusations based on things your kids or other people say without asking your ex what the story is first.

4. Ignoring petty things your ex might say or do because you realize it doesn’t really make a difference.

5. Picking your battles. Not making a big deal about things that don’t mean that much.

6. Not talking about your ex to your children or asking them tons of questions about your ex to get information.

7. Treating your co-parenting goals like a business and not getting emotional.

8. Saying things to your ex that put your kids at ease—like hello and good-bye at drop offs.

9. Not acting angry.

10. Not acting cold.



11. Being open and honest with your kids about the divorce, but appropriate at the same time. In other words, they can hear the story but it has to be gentle, non-detailed, age appropriate and one that you know they can handle.

12. Focusing on your life now versus the past.

13. Not bashing your ex’s new girlfriend or boyfriend in front of the kids.

14. Being kind to your ex’s new girlfriend or boyfriend in front of the kids.

Feig Mediation Group


15. Talking to your family and making sure they are kind to your ex in front of the kids.

16. Not sending texts or emails or calling your ex with harsh, angry messages.

17. Seeing a therapist if you think it will help you.

18. Recognizing your part in the demise of your marriage and possibly even considering an apology to your ex about it.

19. Remembering your ex’s positive qualities and parenting traits, regardless of what he or she did to you in and or after the marriage.

20. Believing in yourself that you have the courage and wisdom to make your co-parenting relationship the best it can be for both yourself and your kids.


Our Family Wizard


These things are not easy to do. Believe me. I get it. But if you can follow some of these things most of the time, it makes co-parenting a heck of a lot better for everyone And, isn’t that the main objective now?


What is done is done. Try to accept that your marriage has ended and that what matters now isn’t what happened, why it happened, who hurt who, who cheated and who left, who lawyered up first, or who went all your assets. What matters are the precious children you created who now have to live in this new situation, who are super afraid of change, and who love both of their parents dearly.


In closing, remember this. You must regularly interact with your ex, not just when the kids are present (at drop offs and pick ups) but in emails and phone conversations and texts about their schedules, their needs, issues that arise at school or health wise.

Remember that your kids deserve to have two parents united to raise them just the same as you would if your marriage would have worked out. That is a mindset that will make even the toughest days of co-parenting easier. Love your kids more than you hate your ex. Keep saying that and you’re on the right path.


Like this article? Check out, “How to Coparent with Someone Who Hurt You”



Listen to the Divorced Girl Smiling podcast View the DGS trusted divorce professionals! Divorced Girl Smiling is now offering a private, no-cost, one-on-one phone consult

Sign up for the Divorced Girl Smiling newsletter to get articles on divorce and dating.

Sign up


    Divorced Girl Smiling welcome video
    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at: DivorcedGirlSmiling.com

    10 Responses to “Divorced With Kids? 20 Co-Parenting Tips”

    1. Abby

      I can imagine that interacting with your ex is very difficult. But the opposite is also true. My ex left us for another woman and moved out of state. He has not come back to see the kids and knows nothing about their lives anymore. It is heartbreaking to see them grieve the loss of a parent they thought loved them. That to me was worse than having to deal with him if I could have saved the kids additional pain.

      • Jackie Pilossoph

        I cannot even imagine how painful that is. I’m so sorry. I have the hardest time understanding how a person could leave thier children. I just do not get it. What a tragedy. Well, they are very lucky to have you. I hope you know your value. xoxo!!

    2. Abby

      Thank you Jackie. I feel the same way. It is so shocking and sad. Your blog has helped so much through this process. Thank you for all that you do.

    3. Beth

      What is also difficult is dealing with an ex who has been emotionally and mentally abusive. He’s Jackal and Hyde. Very good at gaslighting. He’s been showing his nice face since I filed in August trying to get out of child support but I know once things are over he will switch really quick which scares me terribly. I can’t trust him but he’s so good at convincing you that he’s a nice guy to get what he wants. Its confusing and hard to deal with. My oldest doesn’t want anything to do with him the middle just shuts down completely and my youngest is so confused. Tomorrow is the final hearing and I’m praying the judge sees through all of his BS.

    4. adele

      I wish all divorced parents would follow this advice. the torment, hate, parental alienation, golden uterus syndrome, that my spouse’s ex imposes on us is almost unbearable. I do understand why some parents just walk away when the ex acts like that. It is incredibly stressful and difficult. For some parents, it is too painful to be a “visitor” in their child’s life which is how we feel. Sometimes we think it would be better if we had walked away from the kids. The kids are 9 now (twins) not sure if they would even care since we are only visitors. Our phone calls and parenting time is so limited and going back to court doesn’t work. The ex is the type of person who appears perfect in public – volunteers at the school 15 hours a week because she doesn’t work full time and is a good mom – except for the way she treats us. We ALWAYS take the high road and do not retaliate. It is difficult.

    5. Elisha

      I’m struggling right now with maintaining my composure… My ex is unhappy with his life and in turn does all he can to make me feel terrible. We have been deprecated for 3 years and our divorce was finally finalized in August. I recently found out I was pregnant and since we told him he has made life miserable, he refused to allow me to have the kids for a few hours on Christmas Eve and finally after almost 24 hrs of me calling and texting to check on the kids he responded with a nasty text. It seems that no matter what I do he makes me the bad guy, I encourage him to take them to ensure he has time with them and I get back lash, I want a little extra time and I’m shot down because it’s his time with them. I have full custody and despite my desire to never let them go with him I know that would be detrimental for them so I bite my tongue, but I’m so tired of him continuing to use them to hurt me or going weeks with out calling or seeing them to make me out to be the bad guy. I’m tired of watching my babies hurt and taking the brunt of the hurt and anger because I’m the one who’s truly here.

    6. Kim

      My ex & I had a great Co parenting relationship…. I had even commented how great he is as an ex husband. Until, his new girl friend has forbidden him to communicate with me directly. Everything now has to go through the kids or email. Now we fight over everything, he stays on the opposite side of any function or waits till I’m not there to attend. Now the kids are stressed at functions. They don’t care for the new girlfriend & he blames me for brainwashing them. My kids aren’t stupid…. they see the change & know she’s driving the tension. He’s also being really secret about her & not bring her to anything nor has he introduced her to the kids…. am I crazy or is there something really strange about a women who is controlling a man & not letting him have a working relationship with the mother of his children. We also have grandkids together, we’ll be intertwined for the rest of our lives. I’ve even offered to meet her & have a cordial sit down to assure her I’m not interested in him & would thank her for taking him off my hands 😉

      • Jackie Pilossoph

        Wow, she sounds awful. And your ex seems hypnotized by her. Shoot. That’s a tough one! Maybe just back away for awhile and let him figure things out. He will hopefully see her true colors sooner than later.


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *