On Sunday's episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Scott Disick had a bright idea for positive co-parenting his three kids with his ex, Kourtney Kardashian — let’s live together and have an “open relationship.”
Now Scott, 34, was filmed months ago taking Bella Thorne, 20, to Cannes with him and carrying on while there like he himself was a teenager. (He’s now reportedly dating 19-year-old Sofia Richie.) He admittedly was trying to get a rise out of Kourtney, also there with new boyfriend Younes Bendjima, 24, which unsurprisingly backfired.
“They looked so desperate at the airport. Who goes to LAX together? It's not a good look for Scott,” Kim Kardashian remarked to her sister Kendall on the episode. "I think it's clear to everyone that Scott is doing this just to try to one-up Kourtney and that seems super malicious… Kourtney's genuinely trying to go away and have a good time and he's trying to like freak her out and make Kourtney think that there's going to be some crazy drama run-in. It's just so ridiculous."
Scott tearfully admitted he was angry, calling himself a “hothead” and an “idiot.”
The pattern repeats itself over and over for the reality stars. Last March, Scott told People that although the duo split in October 2015, they co-parent like pros. The secret? “I don’t know, and I don’t want to jinx it,” he said.
“I don’t think we know any other way, to be honest. We never had any negativity between us and we made a very smooth transition into the way we live, and luckily, thank God, we’re able to see one another and still be with our children and, knock on wood, that we have that. Thank God we have that and everyone is somewhat happy and it seems to work. It’s not broke, so don’t fix it.”
If chasing your ex to Cannes in an attempt to make her jealous while she is with her new boyfriend isn’t broke, what is?
There are possibly 10 million reasons Scott’s idea won’t work — one being that the two can’t even communicate, and often use Kourtney's sisters to send messages to each other.
“When two people are having difficulty sufficiently co-parenting, they need to separate the feelings about each other from that of the kids,” says Bruce Berman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who practices in New York City. “I’m involved with working with parents in that situation, I’m involved in structuring their communication.”
Dr. Berman says that one thing that makes it difficult for the children is when the parents remain in intense conflict with each other and drag the kids into it. And, doing it on TV doesn't help.
“That’s a more ominous sign,” he says, adding, “You really have to keep in mind what’s best for the children and have that inform how the parents act. You have to really access the part of the parent that really loves and cares for the child.”
He says that some parents can get so involved with fighting that they can lose touch with that.
There are tools that help parents talk to each other when they aren’t getting along — like apps you can download to share kids’ schedules and send messages to each other in a peaceful way. Our Family Wizard and other apps help parents who don’t communicate directly together as the web apps monitor the communication.
“I tell patients right now you treat this like a business,” Dr. Berman says. “Be respectful, civil, and business-like,” he says. “Limit your communications to the children and refrain from negative accusations towards one another, each one bringing their best selves to the interaction.”
What should motivate parents is the part of them that wants to see their children do well and “not develop mental health issues,” he adds, and that there are interventions one can get to help parents raise their kids together.
“I would advise co-parenting counseling to negotiate more constructively,” Dr. Berman says. “I think that in these situations they would be best addressed if one or both parents got a professional involved.”
And no, living under the same roof likely won’t help the situation — but will only exacerbate the problem. Edward Kruk, Ph.D., who writes about successful co-parenting, says that there is no magic formula, but that the parents have to be realistic.
Kruk tells Psychology Today that being there for your children first and foremost is necessary for successful child outcomes. “Children also need their parents to be emotionally present, engaged and attuned, taking an interest in all aspects of their lives and actively involved in their day-to-day routines.”
Talk with your children about the divorce. “Above all, children need to know that they will not be abandoned, physically or emotionally, by either of their parents,” Kruk says.
And the most importantly — “don’t involve children in adult problems... Maintain continuity in their existing routines and relationships, and shelter them from the struggles that are properly the responsibility of their parents.”
He advises to support the other parent’s role and relationship with your children as it is extremely difficult for parents to be at their best when having to parent under duress, and when having to deal with a co-parent who is less than supportive of their role and relationship with their children. You can support each other as parents by “keeping to the co-parenting schedule” — which does not mean moving back in together.
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