I Share Custody With my Ex, But They’re a Really Bad Parent! (Pt 2)

Father and son walking in park
Parents care for their children in different ways, but different doesn’t necessarily mean “bad” or “wrong”.

Welcome back and thanks for joining The Kronzek Firm again. We’ve been discussing the challenges faced by Oakland County parents, and lots of  Metro Detroiters who believe that their ex is a lousy parent, which makes their own parenting challenges that much greater. However, while it can be very frustrating, there are things you need to know, and choices you can make to make the process easier. It can be very challenging to co-parent in the Metro Detroit area with someone who doesn’t share your views on good parenting. But different doesn’t always mean wrong. Right?

There’s a difference between “not what I would have chosen” and “bad”

Let’s unpack an uncomfortable truth. Here it is: “Bad parenting is usually a matter of opinion.” One parent may believe that giving their child more freedoms and choices helps them develop their decision making skills, and helps them learn about consequences. Some other parents think that giving kids choices allows too much freedom and makes them resistant to authority and routine. Which one is correct?

That’s up to you to decide. There are merits to both approaches, but neither one is against the law. So when it comes to the other parent’s parenting choices, you may hate every one of them, but if your child isn’t being abused or neglected, and their basic needs are being met, you have no real legal right to interfere with their parenting choices during their parenting time. Each parent is pretty much responsible for what happens during their own visitation. That’s the view of most of our family court judges and Friend of the Court referees here in Oakland and Macomb counties.

How to work with an ex who doesn’t agree on parenting strategies:

If you and your ex don’t agree on how to raise your child, this cause a lot of stress after a divorce. And let’s be honest, you don’t have the right to tell your ex how to raise your child (not without causing huge conflicts), so to some degree you’re just going to have to learn to let some things go. In the ideal world, the parents would co-parent together and agree on parenting styles. That just doesn’t happen all that often. Of course, you’re not completely without options. There are some strategies you can use that may help you reach a more equitable middle ground. Let’s take a look:

Make suggestions, rather than giving orders: Don’t tell your child’s other parent what they’re doing wrong and how to fix it. This makes people defensive and they’re less likely to listen, even if your idea is a good one. So be kind and thoughtful when addressing parenting ideas with them.

Let the suggestion come from another source: Sometimes there’s enough animosity between you two that ANY suggestions you make will be rejected. So allow the idea to come from another source. For example: “Tim’s therapist suggested we try this with him in the evening, to help him get a better night’s sleep, which she says can help with his focus issues at school.”

Try the “we” instead of “you” approach: When you make a suggestion about something the other parent could do differently, it can sound accusatory, even if you don’t mean it to. Try suggesting a change and then pointing out that you were considering trying it as well as it may help your child in the long run. By making it sound like something you weren’t doing but are willing to try, makes it sound more like a friendly suggestion, and less like a bossy order.

Some parents simply aren’t able to overcome their differences.

Oakland County, just like all other parts of Michigan, is full of parents who want the best for their children, but can’t see eye-to-eye with their ex. Co-parenting is difficult, after all, and figuring out the details is so much easier when you have help from a highly respected family law attorney with decades of experience. Call The Kronzek Firm at (248) 479-6200 to talk to one of our skilled custody and divorce attorneys. We’re available 24/7 to help you work through custody, alimony, child support and other divorce related issues. We resolve a very high percentage of our cases without ever going to trial. We can help you too.