Signs of Inappropriate Co-Parenting, Plus Solutions

Inappropriate co-parenting is when a parent works against the other or is unsupportive of the other's relationship with their children. Recognizing the signs of inappropriate co-parenting could help you put a stop to it before it affects your children.

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The noncustodial parent refuses to communicate

Co-parents need to communicate about exchanges, the child's schooling, medical needs and more. A few signs that a parent is refusing to communicate include:

  • Never returning your calls or responding to your messages
  • Intentionally waiting days to respond
  • Turning every conversation into an argument
  • Communicating through the child

Refusing to communicate, whether by the custodial or noncustodial parent, can lead to more conflict. For example, one parent may have to make a decision alone, and if the other parent disagrees with that decision, it may reinforce their unwillingness to work together.

Lack of communication also hurts the child. They may not know when a parent will pick them up for a visit or who is taking them to sports practice, for example. Using the child to deliver messages to the other parent may cause the child stress and worry.

A parent keeps the child from contacting the other parent

If there are safety concerns, keeping a child away from a parent is understandable. But keeping the child away from a caring parent may harm the child.

A parent may prevent contact by:

  • Withholding the child from the other parent
  • Refusing to allow the child to communicate with the parent remotely (e.g., calls, texts)
  • Telling the child the other parent has no interest in communicating with them
  • Stopping the parent from attending the child's sports games, recitals, etc.

Some believe keeping a child away from their parent can cause the child to develop parental alienation syndrome.

When making custody decisions, courts consider parents' willingness to encourage a parent-child relationship. Parents who restrict contact risk the court ruling against them. This could result in less parenting time for them, the inability to make decisions on the child's behalf, and supervised visits. If you have a custody order, custody interference is a felony in some areas.

One co-parent is bullying the other

Co-parenting is about working together, not one parent dictating everything. Signs of a bullying parent include:

  • Micromanaging (e.g., insisting the other parent buy the child specific clothing brands)
  • Threatening to call the police or Child Protective Services for nonemergency matters (e.g., dropping the kids off five minutes late)
  • Name-calling
  • Badmouthing the other parent in front of the child

Bullying discourages healthy interactions between parents and impacts the child's self-esteem and how they treat others. If you feel like you're constantly under a microscope or being pressured into making certain decisions, you cannot effectively co-parent.

A good way to keep track of co-parenting harassment and bullying is to communicate via texting, emailing or a parenting app. This proof can come in handy if you go to court.

A new partner is interfering with co-parenting

Inappropriate co-parenting can also extend to new partners. While it's normal for stepparents to take on parental roles, they should not have a larger voice in the child's upbringing than the parents do. And it's generally not appropriate for a brand new boyfriend or girlfriend to interfere with co-parenting at all.

Signs of a new partner overstepping their boundaries include:

  • Making major parenting decisions
  • Interfering with communication between parents
  • Inappropriately disciplining the child
  • Exchanging the child on a parent's behalf without permission

Children need stability. Having new people acting like parents can confuse them, especially if not all of those people stick around. Save your children the confusion by covering how you will handle new partners in your parenting plan.

How to co-parent with a difficult ex

It's possible to co-parent when you aren't on the best of terms. Heed this advice when co-parenting with a difficult ex.

Create a thorough parenting plan

A parenting plan is the cornerstone of any co-parenting relationship — especially if you're in high-conflict. It lays out exactly how you are to handle parenting with your ex.

Go beyond the basics of physical and legal custody. Specify exactly when each parent will have the child day-to-day and during holidays and vacations. Lay out which decisions parents are to make together. Include additional provisions that cover every conflict you can foresee.

Set boundaries

You don't have to be best friends to co-parent.

To reduce tension, only discuss matters related to the children. Often, arguments have to do with how co-parents feel about one another rather than anything about the children. When you stop making things personal, you can focus on parenting.

Mediators and parenting coordinators can act as buffers if things are especially contentious.

Control your emotions

Your emotions can interfere with your ability to co-parent. Find outlets other than arguing with the other parent or venting to your children. Talk to family, friends or even a therapist.

Think about how your interactions with the other parent will affect the children before you act. This can help you make decisions that are in their best interests rather than out of spite for the other parent.

Don't stoop to their level

Though it may not be easy, be the bigger person. Stooping to the level of your difficult ex is unproductive and may make things worse. If you go to court, the court won't see your snarky messages as a necessary defense against your ex. They'll only see that both parents engaged in mudslinging, putting them on equally bad terms.

Focus on the kids

While you may disagree often, it's likely that you both want what's best for your kids. Reframe your mindset when it comes to making decisions. If the other parent proposes something, don't shoot it down simply because it's their idea. Consider whether it will benefit your children.

Also, encourage the parent-child relationship between your child and your ex. Ultimately, children fare better when they have two actively involved parents to care for them.

Using custody software to combat inappropriate co-parenting

Creating a parenting plan on your own can feel overwhelming, especially when you need to co-parent with a difficult ex. You also need to follow a detailed custody schedule, set communication boundaries and document everything.

Fortunately, Custody X Change empowers you to do all of this and more.

The Custody X Change app walks you through each step of creating a comprehensive parenting plan. And it allows you to create a parenting time schedule from templates or from scratch.

The many co-parenting features — the messaging center, expense tracker, parenting journal and parenting time tracker — equip you to co-parent effectively and secure your child's well-being.

The easiest and most reliable way to co-parent is with Custody X Change.

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