Conflict management: you and your former partner

Conflict ManagementConflict can be incredibly unproductive and harmful for children’s wellbeing. The following article by Raising Children Network looks at how parents can resolve conflict with their former partner with straight forward tips.


Children are good at adapting when their parents separate, but ongoing conflict between parents can really hurt them. It’s important that you and your former partner work together on conflict management so you can handle tensions and disagreements in a healthy way.

Conflict management with your former partner: why it’s important

Conflict between you and your former partner – and how you deal with it – is one of the biggest things that affects your child’s wellbeing.

Conflict is a problem when parents fight a lot and don’t resolve their differences. Unhealthy conflict affects children badly, whether parents are together or separated.

But seeing you and your former partner work together on conflict management can be reassuring for your child, especially when you show optimism that you can work out a problem or disagreement.

And grown-up conflict management even teaches your child valuable skills. For example, by working together to sort out differences, you show your child how to negotiate and solve problems effectively. This also teaches your child that difference and conflict are a part of life.

Tips for conflict management with your former partner

Here are some tips that can help you with conflict management with your former partner.

Rethink your relationship
If you need to manage conflict with your former partner, it can help to think of your relationship with your former partner as a business arrangement made for the benefit of your child. This can make interacting with your former partner feel less personal.

Be respectful and polite
Try talking with your former partner as you would with a colleague at work. This means listening to each other and talking respectfully to sort out differences. It also means avoiding criticism of your former partner’s parenting and acknowledging strengths.

It can help to talk to your former partner in public places, such as the child care centre or school – it might be easier to stay polite in these places.

When you do communicate with your former partner, keep the focus on your child’s needs and achievements.

And if you don’t handle a situation well, forgive yourself and try to repair any damage. For example, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t handle yesterday’s conversation well. Let’s try again’.

Related Article: 5 Reasons and 5 Steps to Communicate with Your Co-parent

Be flexible
It’s a good idea to be flexible if your former partner needs to make changes to your co-parenting arrangements. After all, you’ll probably need flexibility at some stage too. Either of you might need to make changes – for example, to fit around the days a new partner’s children will be living with you, or changes to the days you work, or holiday plans.

If you’ve repartnered you might need to talk about boundaries, because what was OK before might now feel uncomfortable. For example, your former partner might have come in and had a drink on a Sunday night when dropping off the children, but your new partner might prefer your former partner to stay at the door.

Use a problem-solving approach
If you’re having trouble working through issues with your former partner, problem-solving techniques can help you find solutions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support when you need it.

For information on how you can separate and divorce with or without court please contact our office  – 03 9620 0088 or email

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