ENTERTAINMENT
08/29/2014 04:24 pm ET Updated Nov 28, 2016

Dr. Phil's Dos and Don'ts For Co-Parenting With Your Ex

David Seed Photography via Getty Images

No matter how much you hate your ex, if you’ve got kids together then you need to find a way to get along as co-parents.

“You have a lot of divorces that get acrimony and finger-pointing back and forth, but at some point you hope that the parents become fiduciaries and put the child’s best interest above their own agenda,” Dr. Phil tells his guests, Shawn and Kayla, who are in the middle of a heated custody battle.

Dr. Phil shares these co-parenting dos and don’ts:

DOs:
• Remember that the only person you control is you. Take the high road; there’s a lot less traffic up there.
• Think about the effects your actions have on your children.
• Set boundaries with your ex.
• Sit down with your ex and make an affirmative plan that sets aside any differences you may have so you can focus instead on meeting the needs of your children.
• Agree with your ex that you absolutely won’t disparage each other to your children. Further, forbid your children from speaking disrespectfully about the other parent, even though it may be music to your ears.
• Negotiate how you can best handle sharing the children for visitation, holidays, or events.
• Compare notes with your ex before jumping to conclusions or condemning one another about what may have happened.
• Although it may be emotionally painful, make sure that you and your ex keep each other informed about changes in your life circumstances so that the children are never, ever the primary source of information.

DON’Ts:
• Never sabotage your children’s relationship with the other parent.
• Never use your children as pawns to get back at or hurt your ex, or as tools to gain information and manipulate your ex.
• Never transfer hurt feelings and frustrations toward your ex onto your child.
• Never force your children to choose a side when there’s a conflict in scheduling or another planning challenge.
• Never convert guilt into overindulgence when it comes to satisfying your children’s material desires.

An all-new season of Dr. Phil premieres on Monday, September 14.

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