Co-parenting may be one of the hardest things you ever have to do and social media can make raising children between two separate households even more complex. In moments of frustration, it can be tempting to vent or lash out publicly. But just like any other relationship, there are rules of engagement that should be followed for the sake of healthy parenting and the emotional health of the kids. Here are four social media traps to avoid while co-parenting:
Shaming your co-parent
While it can be frustrating when your ex fails to hold up their end of the deal or doesn’t step up to the plate in order to fulfill their duties as a co-parent, airing out your grievances with them on social media is counterproductive. For one, you’re publicizing personal matters to people who can do absolutely nothing to change your circumstances. Your plight will become a source of entertainment and gossip for the people in your network. Furthermore, publically criticizing your co-parent is hurtful to your kid and can be a form of parental alienation.
“Parents should make sure that they don’t speak negatively about their co-parent, or allow any third party to do so in front of their children,” Sherrill A. Ellsworth, former judge and co-founder of coParenter told O Magazine. “When you use negative speech in front of a child, you are teaching them to be disrespectful.”
Additionally, speaking negatively about your child’s other parent can cause self-esteem issues.
“Children often see themselves as a combination of their parents,” Ellsworth warned. “If parents can’t stand one another, it sets into motion a depletion of the child’s self-worth.”
Mentioning their other kids
Social media often makes us privy to information that we may otherwise have limited access to. When your co-parent has children other than the ones they share with you, it can be tempting to use social media to compare the time and resources spent on the other children to the time and resources your ex is devoting to your child. Additionally, when there is conflict, you may want to lash out at everyone. Whatever the struggle, it’s best to remember that just like your kids, your co-parent’s other children did not ask to be born into this complicated situation. If there is an issue regarding the other children, address them with your co-parent privately.
Disagreements between co-parents are not uncommon. Parenting from two different households is very difficult. However, it’s important for co-parents to disagree in a healthy and constructive manner. Further, these disagreements should not be taking place on public platforms such as social networks sites.
“Remember that good parenting, like anything else, exists on a continuum. Just because two people do things differently doesn’t mean one is right and one is wrong,” explained Dr. Karen Finn, author of On the Road from Heartbreak to Happiness: You Can Heal From Divorce. “Embrace those differences that broaden your child’s perspectives and life experiences, and learn to let little things go if they aren’t detrimental and habitual. And most importantly, be aware of whether or not you are involved in a power struggle, and do your part to bring the focus back to the kids.”
Using social media as a vehicle of control
As previously stated, social media grants us access to people in a way that we would not otherwise have. While it’s natural to want to stalk your exes social media accounts during their time with the kids, refrain from using it as a tool to control or micromanage how they parent. As long as they are not putting the children in danger or inflicting physical or emotional abuse, it’s helpful to recognize that you won’t be able to control what happens in your co-parent’s household.
“It can be difficult for parents to let go of having constant control over their children, especially if you were the main caregiver while you were married,” therapist Chelli Pumphrey told Huff Post. “While it’s important to try to provide consistent rules and structure between two households, it’s inevitable that two parents will have their differences. Try to focus on what you can control in your time with your children, and let the rest go.”