- Put the children first.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- No badmouthing.
- Biological parents make the rules; bonus parents uphold them.
- Don't be spiteful.
- Don't hold grudges.
- Use empathy when solving a problem.
- Be honest and straightforward.
- Respect each other's turf.
- Compromise whenever possible.
They also point out the need to cooperate with your ex for the sake of your children. "It's hard work to get along with someone you despites," write Jann and Sheryl. "Find consolation in the fact that you are not doing it for yourself. You are doing it for the people you love the most—your kids." The women recommend three tactics to help you cooperate.
- Break old patterns of communication.
- Let go of negative emotions.
- Acknowledge your mutual interests.
While working together with your ex may be difficult, if you have children involved Jann and Sheryl write that you must find a way to work together, regardless of your past history or experiences. Often, cooperation requires a complete change in the way you think. "Since I had learned to be angry in my plight," writes Jann, "I decided I could learn not to be angry. Rather than rehearse all of the bad things in my head each morning, I made myself think about the good things—how happy I was to be married to my husband. How happy I was that the kids had accepted me and seem to be adjusting so well. Everyone was healthy. Every time a bad thought come to my mind about Sheryl I pushed it out and replaced it with a more positive thought about my life."
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After taking control of your negative thoughts, you must acknowledge common interests. "Divorced parents have at least two mutual interests," writes Jann. "First they both love the same children, and if they put aside their differences they will acknowledge their mutual importance in their children's lives."