Co-Parenting When Your Ex is a Jerk

Julie Ross: Co-Parenting with a Jerk

Unlike marriage, parenting is for life. And what that means is that sometimes you’re stuck parenting with someone you’re no longer married to, no longer share values with and no longer love. Sometimes, you’re co-parenting with a jerk.

Divorce isn’t easy for kids but it also isn’t rare—nearly half of second marriages with kids also end in divorce. Many children grow up with step-parents, two different homes, visitations, step-siblings and the whole world of divorce.

I recently sat down with Julie Ross, founder and Executive Director of Parenting Horizons, an organization devoted to enriching children’s lives through parent and teacher education. She is a psychologist and author of a number of books including Joint Custody with a Jerk: Raising a Child with an Uncooperative Ex.

Ross began her career interested in working with children, but when she discovered that the progress she’d make with her young clients would often be undone when they returned to their own environment. She decided to shift her attention to the parents and see if she could get to the root of the problem.

A Good Divorce

Ross believes you can judge a divorce by how the kids experience it. From their perspective, she says, seeing that “parents still have a respectful parenting partnership where they make decisions together and still operate as a team”. But in her work she’s seen the approach that yields the best results. When parents come up with a “parenting plan” and then have regular meetings to discuss parenting—not finances or the divorce or the past. This is about being present for the children. That means not putting the kids in the middle, not overstepping your role by countermanding the other parent’s rules, and to, in general, not being reactive. Another way of looking at it is just stepping into parenting maturity.

This week we’ll explore the challenges of co-parenting with someone difficult and with whom you may have a complicated history.

If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.