National Get Out of the Doghouse Day is celebrated every year on the third Monday in July. The idiom “in the doghouse, ”alludes to a dog being punished for bad behavior by being banished to its outdoor kennel rather than being allowed to stay inside. Usually, someone is in the doghouse for something they did or said that results in you falling out of favor with someone, most often your spouse, significant other, or co-parent. National Get Out of the Doghouse Day is a chance for you to get yourself back in the good graces of the certain someone you upset.


The original phrase came from the symbolism in the 1911 Peter Pan novel written by J. M. Barrie. In chapter 16 of his book, Barrie writes of Mr. Darling who went out and slept in the dog kennel, remorseful for not paying enough attention to his family and allowing his children to be kidnapped. It was not written specifically as the phrase and recognized as an idiom or the now well-known phrase until it was written in print in Criminalese by J.J. Fintery in 1926.

A Fort Lauderdale florist, Heidi Richards Mooeny, founded National Get Out of the Doghouse Day in 1999 as a unique way to promote her business. In some cases, a nice bouquet of flowers may be just the thing to get you out of the doghouse.


Overcoming conflict and staying out of the doghouse is often easier said than done, especially for two individuals who have divorced or separated. For those that have children together, it is important to maintain some kind of working relationship in place for the children. However, conflicts that existed during the relationship have a way of persisting into co-parenting. Consider the following strategies and tips to overcome conflict in co-parenting and avoid getting in the doghouse.

  1. LIVE IN THE PRESENT. Fixating on past conflicts or events that contributed to your separation or divorce could lead you to make emotional decisions based on your feelings about something that happened in the past.
  2. MANAGE CONFLICT. How you manage conflict has an impact on your kids. It is important for parents to be aware of how they interact with each other. It can be hard to know what to say when confronted with a difficult situation. Managing conflict in a constructive manner by taking time to carefully think about how you want to respond will not only help to resolve the conflict but will be a good example for your children rather than handling the situation in a destructive manner.
  3. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR TONE. Effective communication greatly relies on language and word choice. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can quickly turn a conversation down an unintended path. Choose the right words to properly convey what you need to say. Avoid language that offends or hurts your co-parent’s feelings, such as name-calling, vulgar language, and sarcasm. Just like word choice, the way you deliver those words is just as important in building effective communication. Your method of delivery, the tone of your voice, and timing are all things to consider. Be aware of these choices and how they are affecting your communication whether face-to-face, over the phone, or in text messaging.
  4. ALWAYS PUT YOUR CHILDREN FIRST. When discussing topics with your co-parent be prepared to keep the focus on your child and their needs. Overcoming conflict is not about winning arguments. The goal is to communicate and reach agreements in such a way that not only keeps in mind your child’s best interest, but also protects them from conflict that can have a negative emotional and mental impact.
  5. LOVE YOUR CHILDREN MORE THAN YOU DISLIKE THE OTHER PARENT! When you find yourself getting frustrated or angry with the other parent, remind yourself that you love your child(ren) more than you dislike the other parent. When the parents can’t get along, the kids suffer.
    • As always, if you are in an abusive relationship where you and/or your children are in danger….don’t try to work it out…seek help immediately.

Ineffective communication can lead to unwanted stress and conflict. When you and your co-parent struggle to accomplish what needs to be resolved, not only does co-parenting become more difficult, but your children may also feel the effects of the tense situation. If you keep the best interest of your children at the forefront of the conversation, constructive conflict resolution is possible and you won’t find yourself in the doghouse with your co-parent.

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