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Setting Boundaries When Co-Parenting

The Importance of Setting Boundaries When Co-Parenting After Separation or Divorce

Setting boundaries is important in life. In fact, one thing that I often recommend to everyone no matter the relationship—from friendships to partner to work—is to set healthy boundaries. However, when people are navigating a separation and divorce while simultaneously navigating the world of co-parenting, setting boundaries can be difficult and, at times, feel completely unobtainable.

And that’s okay. Struggling to set boundaries is normal but it is very important that you set those boundaries as soon as you can. The earlier in a co-parenting relationship you can set those boundaries, the better it will be for you, your ex-partner and your kids.

The Reason to Set a Boundary

First, while it may seem like a no brainer if you are dealing with a high conflict ex-partner, it may not be so clear as to why you need a boundary with an ex-partner you are getting along with. The main reason to set a boundary is so that you can define your new relationship.

Remember, you are not in a relationship where you and your partner are together. You now have different goals; different dreams and you may even have different ideas on what co-parenting will look like.

When you have boundaries in place, you are setting rules to what the co-parenting relationship will look like. It will definitely be different from the relationship that you had when you were together, and it may constantly evolve as your kids get older or you add new people into your, and their, lives.

Boundaries equal rules and parameters that will only aid you as co-parents.

So how do we set them? Well, here are some pretty simple steps to set those boundaries with your ex-partner.

Boundary Number One: Don’t be a Confidant

A particularly good boundary to have that will help set the relationship is to not be the confidant to your ex-partner. While you may still have a friendship, and hopefully so, if you are confidants to each other, it can confuse the roles you play in each other’s lives. It is okay to be in contact with each other from time to time, but you should still talk about things regarding the kids, especially if you are becoming a blended family with stepparents involved.

The main reason that I always stress this boundary is that by being a confidant, it blurs the relationship to what you had in the past. This can be confusing for everyone involved but especially for the kids. In addition, it can be easy to fall into old habits and to have expectations of getting back together, which can lead to a lot of conflict if that doesn’t happen.

You can be friends, but don’t be best friends sharing all the intimate details of your life or the stresses you have.

Boundary Number Two: Approach Everything From a Calm Place

Another boundary to set is for yourself, but it is one that you should be clear about with your ex-partner. Let them know that you will disengage if an argument happens…and follow through. Don’t come to meetings or mediations angry, frustrated or with any type of negative emotion. Instead, center and find your calm place before you meet.

Remember that energy matches energy, so if you come to all interactions with your co-parent with a calm energy, they are more likely to match it. When you first set this boundary, set it for yourself. Don’t expect your partner to do it, but let them know that you won’t interact if it becomes a conflict.

As your relationship grows, see if they would be open to having the same boundary as you.

Boundary Number Three: Keep the Kids Out of Arguments

This is a very important boundary and both of you should follow it. Do not bring your kids into the argument. This means that you shouldn’t argue in front of them. If you can’t have a civil conversation, choose third person handoffs where you don’t have to interact, or agree that you will only discuss high tension topics through email without the kids present. Arguing in front of the kids could lead to a lot of stress and upset for the kids…and it could cause them to feel like they need to pick sides.

Another important thing about keeping kids out of the arguments is that you should never badmouth your ex-partner to them or get them to relay messages for you. Instead, just talk about the good parts of your ex as it pertains to them. Kids grow up quickly and they thrive when they have a good relationship with both their parents.

Boundary Number Four: Set the Times You Are Available

If your kids are with your co-parent, you may want to keep the phone on or the app notifications up so that you can be contacted in the event of an emergency; however, when the kids are with you, it is good to have set times when you are available to the other parent and vice versa.

Kid related, have a number or guidelines for contacting during an emergency. If it isn’t kid related or has to do with custody, expenses or the other matters of co-parenting (or your divorce), let the other parent know the times you are available to talk. If you don’t have set times, it can be extremely easy for your ex-partner to infringe on time you have dedicated to yourself.

In addition to that boundary, also make boundaries on how they can contact you. Use the calendar and mediation app for all things non-emergency regarding the kids. Use email for divorce settlement stuff and use texts for reminders or quick questions about the kids that you need answered.

As you can see, setting boundaries is important for you, your children, your ex-partner and how you set up your relationship. Without boundaries, you can fall into old habits that can lead to a wide range of conflict between you. Without boundaries, it can create confusing dynamics for all involved, and the best thing for you and your kids is to avoid those confusing situations so all of you are thriving and happy.

Why 2houses?

We are a co-parenting facilitator!


A calendar for everyone, getting organised when you’re divorced is a priority. 2houses provides you an online shared schedule, with many editing, adding, and sync features.


For us, as divorced parents, the financial topic is most of the time a conflict topic. Now, 2houses manages all expenses from each parent, keeps you informed on the situation, day after day, coins after coins.


Communication is key, this is why 2houses offers you an online messaging tool, simple, efficient and secure.


The journal is your quick family social network. You can easily share all information, news, photos, videos, and even your children’s funny quotes. The family is never far away, no matter where you are geographically located.

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