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Remember: Co-parenting is not a competition

It is common for parents to grow increasingly competitive with each other after their divorce. A divorce can be emotionally stressful for the whole family, and it is natural for parents to feel like they must make it up to their children somehow. 

This feeling--plus the emotional insecurity that parents often develop when determining child custody--often contributes to parental competition after divorce. This competition might be common, but it is critical for parents to avoid it and the potential consequences it could have on their family.

What does parental competition look like?

Many divorced parents might act competitively without even knowing it. This competition often manifests in several ways, including:

  • Being too lenient: Parents might try to be "the fun parent" and avoid discipline. They might let the child stay up late, eat unhealthily or watch R-Rated movies. If the child cannot do these things at the other parent's house, then it often makes the other parent seem too strict.
  • Being overbearing: On the other hand, some parents might also attempt to take over all of the parenting responsibilities and push out the other parent. They believe that taking all of the duties on makes them look like the better and more competent parent. 
  • Spoiling children: Buying children new expensive toys or gadgets is another attempt to be "the fun parent." Divorced parents often use their finances to win more affection from their children and provide more than the other parent.

This kind of competition is dangerous

Parental competition is essentially a power struggle that usually only ends up hurting both the parents and the children.

For example:

  1. Children want to please both parents, but also keep the peace between them. They might feel guilty after a divorce, and that guilt might only increase when parents compete with one another. 
  2. Never disciplining children often only has negative consequences and can severely impact a child's development.
  3. Competition between parents could end up straining the child's relationship with both of their parents in the long run.

There is no winning or losing during or after divorce. So, parents should only focus on their child's needs and being the best parent they can be.

How can you prevent competition?

Sticking to the parenting plan is one of the best ways to avoid competing. North Carolina parents can establish specific rules for the child that will stay the same at each parent's home. They can also create boundaries and rules each parent must follow, such as establishing a budget regarding toys or gifts for children. 

It is important to remember that there are no points to be earned in parenting. One's ex-spouse is still the child's parent too, and competing with them will not help the child or the future of the family.

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