Breaking up with someone and staying civil is hard enough when it's just between the two of you, but when a child is involved, it can be a bit dicey. Having spent the last 13 years as a parent working with an ex to raise a child, these steps have made it easier to focus on what matters most-- our child.
Get rid of that label. Stop referring to your child's parent as your "baby mama" or "baby daddy". View them as the other party involved in the creation of your little one. If the child is over the age of two, that term is definitely inappropriate.
Communicate with your ex.
Do not use your child as a walkie-talkie. Using your child as a go between can lead to disaster. Children often play sides when it comes to wanting things from their parents. Miscommunication can develop if a message is misconstrued whether intentionally or unintentionally. It's best if you two do the talking directly.
Keep it simple and straight forward.
Express what your needs or concerns for your child are while being specific and concise. Over doing things and indulging in longer than necessary conversations leave you open to disagreements and ill-feelings. These are not beneficial to the child and hamper the possibility of an amicable relationship with your ex.
Don't lead your ex on. Speak only of the child. If your own personal matters must be discussed, it should be done solely due to scheduling concerns related to the child. As long as you are not doing anything that could cause harm to your child, your personal life is your own and your ex should no longer be a part of it. That is why he or she is called your ex.
Don't be the meanie.
Do not bash the other parent in the presence of your child. You don't have to be the best of buds, but you should at least be civil. A child can pick up on any animosity you hold for their mommy or daddy and will likely resent you for being the meanie.
Make it work for both parents. Establish a schedule for visitations, attending sporting events, other extra curricular activities, doctor and dental visits. Whether it is court appointed or set by the two of you, it can be made flexible to suit all involved.
Keep them out of it. Avoid getting your new partner involved in matters between you and your ex. If you are strictly about business with your ex, your new mate should feel no insecurity and therefore no need to interfere with the parental system you've set up with your ex. The catch with this step is that your ex has to be respectful and do the same with his or her new partner.
Everyone has their place. If you are taking the next step in the relationship with your new partner, assure your ex that no one will be taking his or her place. Make it certain that you have chosen someone who understands the importance of your child's relationship with the other parent, and make it known you're not looking for a replacement. If this seems tough, just remember that you wouldn't want to be replaced by a new mommy or daddy yourself.
Stick to your guns.
Being too lax can lead to your ex taking advantage of you. Don't be bullied, you're an adult, you're a parent and what you say matters too.
Be cool. People are unpredictable. They might not want to be reasonable; they might not have a desire to get along. Just keep your composure and retrace your steps because your child is worth it.