How to Handle Common Co-parenting Issues for Massachusetts Parents

by | Jul 26, 2023 | Children |

Parenting for Massachusetts parents is challenging under normal circumstances and can be even more complex when co-parenting during a  conflict. Ideally, Massachusetts divorced, or separated parents should have a direct line of communication to discuss childcare issues.

However, co-parenting becomes problematic when there is lingering resentment or an inability to cooperate. You must overcome co-parenting obstacles to provide the best care for the child.

While each situation is unique, there are common challenges that, if identified early, can be resolved for the child’s best interests.

Common Co-Parenting Challenges

What are some of the common co-parenting challenges that you may face? Let us find out:

Different Parenting Styles

It is common to have one strict parent while the other is lax with the rules and routines. One parent might have strict diet rules, while the other needs more time or skills to accommodate home-cooked meals daily.

When you have different parenting styles, you may both be inclined to prove to the other why your style is superior. In such cases, one parent may feel controlled, which builds resentment. The other parent may also feel that the well-being of the children is compromised.

To resolve this problem, experts may recommend a sit-down to discuss the best way forward. Consider having clear and similar routines concerning bedtime, diet, homework, and other daily activities.

If you do not get along well enough to communicate face-to-face, consider communicating via email or through your divorce attorney. The courts may also get involved if one party’s parenting style is detrimental to the well-being of the children.

Financial Inequality Between the Two Households

Another common co-parenting challenge is differences in finances between the separate households. Other financial issues may include:

  • Lack of financial support from one party: Children’s financial needs change as they grow, and you may find yourself budgeting for additional unaccounted expenses in the original child support agreement.
  • Outdated child support agreement: Both parents must review and update child support agreements to reflect each household’s income, time, and custody as the children grow older.
  • Different financial capabilities: Sometimes, parents make different choices regarding vacations, summer camps, or buying more expensive clothes. If your co-parenting partner does not have similar capabilities, it may cause financial inequality conflicts.

Inconsistent Communication

During separation or divorce, the parents avoid each other, which leads to poor, inconsistent, or unclear communication. This hurts their ability to make joint decisions about the children’s welfare.

Effects of inconsistent communication include not meeting the child’s needs, missed appointments, lack of cooperation, and missing updates about the child’s progress in school. You may also face challenges such as:

  • Regular disagreements about parenting staples or life choices
  • Emotional barriers such as resentment, anger, and dislike
  • One parent may speak ill of the other to the children.
  • Lying to the children
  • Disrespect and misunderstandings
  • Child neglect
  • Missed deadlines.

Talking to a family attorney is critical if your partner deliberately obstructs communication.

Trouble Relinquishing Control for the Primary Caregiver

It can be challenging to let go of your children if you are the primary caregiver. Separate households will typically have different structures and rules. Your former spouse will inevitably have a different parenting style,

Focus on what is within your control during your time with the children. If you have 50-50 custody, discuss the children’s needs and your expectations diplomatically.


Badmouthing fuels conflict in co-parenting relationships. Although emotions run high during separation and divorce, you must refrain from badmouthing the other parent in front of the children.

When you speak badly about their other parent, children will likely interpret it as a reflection of their character. The children may start to doubt themselves, feel unworthy, or have low self-esteem.

Talk about any problems you have directly with your co-parenting partner. Avoid sending messages through the children. Remember to be cautious about your commentary.

Children naturally avoid negative energy and may gravitate towards the parent who takes the high road.

Discipline Differences

After separation, issues such as differences in discipline become more pronounced. The differences in discipline methods, expectations, and home rules and routines are highlighted further if you have a 50-50 custody agreement.

Different discipline standards can bring inconsistency and confusion into children’s lives. Additionally, if both parents do not agree on the same levels of discipline, they may have trouble enforcing consequences.

For instance, if a child is grounded in one parent’s home, the punishment must be upheld when transitioning to the other home.

When one parent fails to uphold the discipline enforced by the other, it can lead to feeling dismissed. The child may also struggle to understand boundaries, rules, and consistency.

How to Overcome Co-Parenting Challenges

It takes communication, consistency, and versatility to overcome co-parenting challenges. Some options you can explore to overcome co-parenting challenges include:

Avoiding Unnecessary Conflict

Avoid emotional responses and disagreements to prevent unnecessary conflict. Think critically and react diplomatically. You can achieve the best outcome when using a logical approach during disputes.

Parents should also create and adhere to co-parenting agreements to avoid conflict. In the agreement, outline essential factors such as:

  • Discipline
  • Routines including meals and bedtime for consistency.
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Financial accommodations
  • Tidiness and cleaning
  • Homework and extracurricular activities
  • Transition between homes

Remember, as the child grows, their financial and lifestyle needs change. Parents may also go through significant life events that change their economic capabilities.

Both parents must be open to adapting and amending the co-parenting agreement to suit the child’s best interests.

Effective Communication

To co-parent successfully, you must communicate effectively. When communicating with your former spouse:

  • Give them your full attention.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Listen respectfully without interrupting.
  • Ensure you understand their point of view even if you disagree.
  • Refrain from criticism.
  • Do not make demands.
  • Use a cordial tone.
  • Keep conversations child-focused.

A critical element of effective communication is regulating your emotional triggers. Stay calm and control your emotions, even during difficult conversations.


If different negotiation and communication strategies fail, consider counselling. Co-parenting therapy is widely available to help parents balance their responsibilities.

During counselling, a therapist can help you cultivate healthy communication methods. Counselling also helps parents learn conflict resolution and how to set boundaries.


Co-parenting is challenging, but it can succeed with dedication and effort. You may disagree on many issues, but it is essential to disagree respectfully.

Healthy conflict resolution helps children avoid stress and anxiety as they transition into two separate households.

If communication fails, seek help from a mediator and always be ready to compromise. However, you handle co-parenting, always put the children’s interests first.

Should you be in the midst of a divorce or paternity case, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.


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