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As you and your former spouse begin to navigate the tricky world of co-parenting, you are likely to meet your share of challenges. Here are some tips for parents who want to successfully co-parent their children.

Be flexible. This is especially true in the case of visitation matters. Sometimes, parents are stubborn about visitation just to get back at the other parent. This is hardly in the best interests of the child.

Encourage the children to have a good relationship with the other parent. That doesn’t just involve visitation times, but also means that you consciously and vocally encourage the child to maintain more contact with the other parent. That also means that you set aside your ego and any bitter feelings you may have about the other parent.

Try therapy or counseling, to work out your feelings. Any bitterness that you have about the divorce could create conflict in your co-parenting situation, and could have a negative fallout on your children. Continue to maintain a social circle, keep in touch with friends, or get in touch with a therapist to work that negativity from your system.

Stay focused on your children. Remember, that all that you are doing is in their best interests.

Sometimes, staying flexible and keeping a smile on your face can be hard. Stay fit and exercise regularly. Exercise helps you stay physically fit, but also helps you deal with the mental stresses that can creep into a co-parenting situation.

Never use your child as a bargaining tool, or as a messenger.

Never use your child as a therapist. Don’t pour out all your negative feelings about your child’s other parent on your child.

Co-parenting situations work best, when each parent recognizes that the child has the right to a wholesome, happy and healthy relationship with both parents, without any toxic negative influences from either parent.