(NEWS CENTER) — Parenting is incredibly rewarding but it's also very challenging.
It becomes wildly more complicated when partners or spouses break-up or divorce leaving mother and father to parent together even though they no longer live the same home.
Family and Marriage Therapist Jack Burke suggests three things to keep in mind when trying to co-parent with an ex.
Parents need not be jealous of their child's love of other parent.
Jack suggests parents ask themselves if they really believe there is a fixed amount of love their child has for them. Love is not divided. Burke says your child can love both parents and should not be asked to choose one over the other.
He reminds that most children's primary goals in life are not to reassure their parents of the love they have for them. Let your child be a kid and love both parents.
Secondly, Burke says your child is not an enemy agent. Often parents feel like they can't be themselves or discipline the way the normally would because their child will tattle on them to the other parent.
Burke reminds that all kids will try to manipulate, at least a little, but that does not mean that parents should alter who they are and how they want to discipline. Burke says you can not fear your own child.
Lastly Burke says you can not sheild your child from your ex. (We are not talking about abuse or any illegal activity, in which case you certainly can protect your child by getting police and DHHS involved.)
Burke says even though your ex may parent differently or treat you child different than you do, you can only teach them good skills when they are with you.
When you child comes back from a visit with mom or dad and complains about something the other parent did, Burke says the best thing to do is keep your own emotions in check and ask your child how they handled the incident. Teach them things they can do to better handle it when said parent does things they are not used to and everyone will be a winner.