Individually, all parents raise their children in a different style, for example, they could be laid back or more strict. With regards to co-parenting the same rules apply, and it is important to know what kind of co-parent you are, and what kind of co-parent your ex is, in order to understand how to communicate with each other better.
Due to human nature there is an immense number of different co-parenting styles, some positive and some negative, but seven common ones that we will focus on.
1. Emotional – Emotions are a wondrous thing, allowing us the ability to feel the world around us. They run the gamut from happy and hopeful, to sad and sorrowful. We can use our emotions for positive outcomes and negative outcomes. In a co-parenting relationship the emotional co-parent senses all things more deeply than most. Meaning this type of co-parent could find all of the wonderful instances in raising a child with a co-parent and embrace them, or they could focus solely on the awful parts of the relationship or person and be destructive. When this type of co-parent is concentrating on the positive the relations between parents flourish, communication is at a high, and the child feels secure and upbeat. On the flip side, this parent could zero in on everything that goes wrong, and blow the faults of the other parent out of proportion. This causes distress, arguments, and a child that struggles to find comfort in both homes.
2. Hostile/Negative – A hostile or excessively negative co-parent is destructive. Their actions often result in heavy disagreements, or can lead to an abusive connection. All encounters in their eyes are seen as a burden. They judge and criticize not just their parenting partner but also the child. Hostile co-parents regularly use aggressive behaviors, words, and mannerisms. It is apparent that this parenting style is detrimental to the child involved, leading to an inability to properly nurture and care for their child in a loving way. When dealing with this style of co-parent do your best to keep your child out of the way when communicating, encourage trust and honesty as they may feel uncomfortable relating their experiences with a hostile parent, and remember that you can only control your emotions and actions and be the best parent you can be. If your co-parent becomes violent or abusive seek outside help.
3. Cooperative – Cooperative co-parents usually have highly successful associations. They parent with respect, have strong communication skills, and demonstrate a willingness to compromise instead of argue. A child in this type of situation has room to grow and learn without fear or guilt. Their parents have their best interests at heart, and strive to always set clear boundaries. Although they will be very forthcoming with anything to do with the child, they will keep personal issues to themselves. This allows the partnership between cooperative co-parents to function only on what is needed to raise their child together, and has nothing to do with their previous relations.
4. Detached – Detachment in co-parenting means the parent is regularly un-involved in the child’s life or neglectful of their needs. They are easily bored with making arrangements, or handling parental responsibilities. Detached parents provide the most basic of needs, food, shelter, hygiene, but ignore other needs such as emotional, mental, and or educational. This could be happening for any number of reasons including but not limited to; disinterest, overwhelmed with personal problems, drug or alcohol issues, adopting un-involvement as a parenting technique, or as revenge on the other parent. Understanding why a co-parent is detached, can help determine how best to keep them involved in their child’s life.
5. Amiable – A style of co-parenting that you might come across is amiable. Meaning the co-parent is friendly, patient, and good-natured. They won’t be perturbed by custody issues, changes in routine, or a disagreeable co-parent. Amiable co-parents are normally happy in their everyday life, and allow this to be how they parent their children. In most instances they are not only cooperative, but will give up much of their personal needs or wants in order for the opposite parent to attain what they wanted. This style of co-parenting offers smooth interactions. With that being said, amiable co-parents’ opinions and values can become lost or overlooked. If they are not strong enough to stand up for their rights when needed, the other parent may take advantage. A parent in this situation needs to ensure that the child is getting input from both parties, as both are important when raising a child.
6. Manipulative – Unfortunately, in the modern world it is common to see manipulative co-parents. They are resentful of the other parent, deceitful, and actually aspire to cause their co-parenting partner strife. It would be normal for co-parents in this category to use their children as spies, requiring them to gain information about their other parent before offering love or support in return. In addition, they are talented in making their children or outside parties believe they are the victim. Preying on the emotions of those around them allows them to attain their goals. Perhaps they will use guilt, or force, or degradation but every one of their actions is meant to further themselves. Children in this type of situation often show signs of self-esteem issues, and distrust. They can feel that they are being manipulated, but rarely understand how or why.
7. Stable/ Consistent – Offering stability and consistency is imperative in co-parenting relationships just as it is in a dual parenting relationship. Children need these things to feel safe enough to learn and grow. Co-parents who adopt a stable parenting style are very upfront about their opinions, have clear expectations of what they want, and very rarely waver in their decisions. Once a course of action is planned, they will do everything in their power to see it through. However, it is common that this type of co-parent has low compromising skills, and can be considered regimented or strict.
If you are struggling with your co-parenting relationship, determining your parenting style will enable you to become more aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to find personality traits in yourself that can balance out your ex’s.