Psychologist experts and family therapists like Constance Ahrons have named the five types of post-divorce co-parenting relationships you’re most likely to have with your ex. Identifying the one you have can help you examine patterns and work toward what’s best for your children.
Perfect Pals are, in a word, friendly. They’re the sort of co-parents where you wonder why they’re divorced (or if they divorced at all), given that they’re so comfortable with each other and the situation. They’re in contact with each other not just because of the kids, but because they have a happy, friendly relationship with each other. Some children find this a bit confusing, but at least their parents are getting along!
This type of couple recognizes that the kids are the priority, even if they’ve had some difficulty while divorcing. Whether they’ve had to deal with the court system and would now like to save the money and time to come to an agreement on their own, or just realize that their best interests are to civilly communicate about what’s best for the kids, they act like mature adults when it counts.
Divorce is hard, and often it doesn’t come without a certain amount of resentment. Angry Associates are stuck in their relationship patterns, and can’t seem to communicate with each other without retreading old ground. The kids, however, generally find these old patterns almost as stressful as when their parents were still married.
This is the most hostile type of co-parenting relationship, where you can expect to see things like court battles, parental alienation and other deeply dysfunctional hallmarks. Kids who have Fiery Foes as parents might be used as pawns for parental revenge, or witness every communication between their parents turn into a terrible argument. Needless to say, Fiery Foes have not only poor relationships with each other, but their hostility can frighten and upset their children.
Ever ended a relationship and considered that person dead to you? That’s the Dissolved Duo attitude, where you’re so over your ex that you don’t even speak. Maybe you don’t know how to get in touch with your ex, or just prefer sweet silence to talking about visitation and childcare issues. It’s a less emotionally-fraught situation than being Fiery Foes, but it has its own unique burden on your children.
No matter what kind of relationship you and your ex have, discovering your type can lead to better self-reflection—and better relationships for the sake of your children. Take the quiz below to find out what your relationship is: