Navigating the world of co-parenting can be challenging no matter how your marriage ended. It can involve a heavy learning curve and new questions to consider. And when you have a difficult ex, it can be even more stressful.

When you’re dealing with a stubborn or disrespectful ex, your patience can run thin. Here are some tips for handling your difficult ex – while keeping your child as your main priority.

Set communication expectations.

You and your ex will need to communicate about the important topics surrounding your child. It may help to set rules, such as the topic of conversation will never stray from your child. Or you will only talk on the phone if necessary. Confirming details or asking quick questions can be done through email or text, which may decrease your chances of arguing.

You should also never use your child as a messenger. They do not need to be involved in adult matters.

Have a strong support system.

Having to keep a difficult ex in your life may be exhausting and overwhelming. Maintaining a healthy support system can help. These should be people you can talk to in confidence, and who can support you through this tough time. Perhaps it’s a friend, sibling, parent or therapist.

Pay attention to the qualities you appreciate.

It can be hard to recognize the good qualities of someone you don’t get along with. But try to pay attention to your ex’s positive qualities. Perhaps they are affectionate, so you know they’ll shower your child with hugs and kisses. Or maybe they always stick to schedule, so you never have to worry about your child going to bed late or missing school.

Recognizing your ex’s good parenting qualities may help you stay calm despite their bad traits. It may also serve as a reminder of why it’s important to co-parent with them to the best of your ability.

Remember you can only control yourself.

At the end of the day, you cannot control how your ex will communicate or react. You have to choose how you will treat them despite their behavior. If they say something nasty, are you going to say something back? If they do something you disprove of, are you going to take revenge?

As frustrated as you may be, you should think about what reaction is going to help the situation. You might also consider the example you want to set for your child. And if things continue to escalate, you always have the option to settle your situation in court.

It can be draining to co-parent with someone you’re not on good terms with. Take a deep breath. This is all for the person who matters most – your child.