Factors Contributing to Conflicts with Co-Parents: Understanding the Key Causes

Jul 21, 2023

Co-parenting can be a challenging journey, requiring effective communication, collaboration, and compromise. When two individuals who are no longer in a romantic relationship share the responsibility of raising a child, conflicts are bound to arise. Understanding the key factors that contribute to conflicts with co-parents is essential for creating a harmonious co-parenting relationship and ensuring the well-being of the child.

Communication Issues

One of the primary causes of conflicts between co-parents is communication issues. Effective communication is crucial for successful co-parenting, but it can be challenging when emotions run high or when there is a lack of clarity and understanding. Miscommunication or lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings, disagreements, and frustration.

Anne, a divorced mother of two, shares her experience: “My ex-husband and I often had conflicts because we didn’t communicate effectively. We would assume things about each other’s intentions or make decisions without discussing them first. It led to misunderstandings and unnecessary arguments.”

To overcome communication issues with your co-parent, it is important to establish clear channels of communication and set boundaries. Here are some practical tips:

  • Set up regular communication: Schedule weekly or bi-weekly meetings to discuss important matters related to your child’s well-being.
  • Use technology: Utilize tools such as shared calendars, email, or co-parenting apps to keep each other informed about schedules, appointments, and important updates.
  • Be respectful: Practice active listening and avoid interrupting each other during discussions. Show respect for each other’s opinions and perspectives.
  • Avoid confrontations: If you find yourself getting heated during conversations with your co-parent, take a step back and give yourself some time to cool down before continuing the discussion.

Parenting Disagreements

Parenting disagreements often contribute to conflicts between co-parents. Each parent may have their own parenting style, values, and beliefs, which can lead to clashes when making decisions about discipline, education, or even everyday routines.

Emily, a co-parent who faces parenting disagreements with her ex-husband, shares her thoughts: “We have different ideas about what’s best for our child and how to handle certain situations. It often leads to arguments and tension between us.”

To navigate parenting disagreements effectively:

  • Focus on the child’s best interests: Remember that your child’s well-being should be the top priority. Put aside personal differences and work together to make decisions that benefit your child.
  • Compromise: Find common ground and be willing to compromise. Look for solutions that incorporate both parents’ perspectives.
  • Seek professional help if needed: If you find it difficult to resolve parenting disagreements on your own, consider seeking the assistance of a mediator or family therapist who specializes in co-parenting issues.

Lack of Boundaries

A lack of boundaries can also contribute to conflicts with co-parents. When boundaries are not clearly established or respected, it can lead to misunderstandings, overstepping boundaries, and feelings of resentment.

Chris, a co-parent who struggled with boundary issues, shares his experience: “There were times when my ex-spouse would interfere in my personal life or make decisions without consulting me. It created tension and made it difficult to maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship.”

To establish and maintain healthy boundaries:

  • Define your roles and responsibilities: Clearly communicate your expectations and responsibilities as co-parents. Discuss how decisions will be made and how you will support each other in raising your child.
  • Respect personal space: Give each other the freedom to live separate lives outside of co-parenting. Avoid interfering in each other’s personal affairs unless it directly affects the well-being of your child.
  • Seek professional guidance if necessary: If you find it difficult to establish boundaries or if your co-parent consistently disrespects them, consider seeking guidance from a counselor or therapist who can help you navigate this challenge.

Lack of Conflict Resolution Skills

Co-parents who lack conflict resolution skills may find it challenging to resolve conflicts peacefully and effectively. Inability to address conflicts can lead to escalated tensions, prolonged disputes, and an unhealthy co-parenting environment.

To improve conflict resolution skills:

  • Listen actively: Practice active listening by giving your full attention to what the other person is saying. Avoid interrupting, and strive to understand their perspective.
  • Show empathy: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to understand their feelings and needs. Empathy can help foster understanding and create a more cooperative atmosphere.
  • Use “I” statements: Instead of blaming or accusing, express your own feelings and needs using “I” statements. For example, say “I feel frustrated when…” instead of “You always…” This helps avoid defensiveness and promotes open dialogue.
  • Consider mediation: If you find it difficult to resolve conflicts on your own, consider involving a neutral third party, such as a mediator or counselor, to help facilitate productive discussions and find mutually acceptable solutions.


Conflicts with co-parents are common but can be managed effectively through understanding the key causes and implementing practical strategies. By addressing communication issues, navigating parenting disagreements, establishing boundaries, and improving conflict resolution skills, co-parents can create a more harmonious co-parenting relationship for the well-being of their children.

Remember, successful co-parenting requires ongoing effort, patience, and willingness to work together. By prioritizing effective communication, mutual respect, and the best interests of your child, you can overcome conflicts and build a positive co-parenting environment that supports your child’s growth and development.