Co-Parenting: Tips to Make it Work
Co-parenting often describes a parenting situation in which two separated or divorced parents take care of their children. Learning to be an effective co-parent is an ongoing process. Ideally the children would have similar access to both parents. At its best, co-parenting is a wonderful opportunity for children of divorce to feel okay to love both of their parents. To make co-parenting work communicating with your former spouse is going to be necessary. It is in your children’s best interest to have an amicable relationship with your ex and continue do so for the length of your children’s childhood into young adulthood. This may include special events, graduations – and perhaps even weddings. I recently found an article on theparentconnection.org.uk
that provided these tips:
- Respect each other’s parenting style. Your ex might have different approaches to mealtimes, bedtimes and entertainment but don’t interfere UNLESS the child is at risk of harm.
- When you speak about your child’s other parent, use positive, or if not positive then neutral, comments. Try and encourage family and friends do the same.
- However tempting it is, don’t question your children about the other parent or encourage them to act as spies.
- If you have questions about what goes on at the other parent’s home, ask your ex directly.
- Don’t encourage children to complain about the other parent. If there is a problem encourage them to talk to their other parent about it.
- Try and keep your feelings about your ex separate from your parenting decisions.
- Treat your child’s other parent as you would like to be treated yourself.
- Try and make sure all big decisions or changes for your child are made in consultation with the other parent.
- Whenever possible communicate directly with each other. Never through your child even when they are older – even on small issues.
- Remember texting and emailing can be useful but sometimes things can be misinterpreted.
- Share information about your child with each other. It should not be a competition around who has most information.
- Make sure that your child has what they need at each home. Don’t expect your child to carry the burden of ferrying stuff backwards and forwards between homes.
- Keep to financial arrangements and notify the other parent about any issues that will affect him/her.
- Make difficult decisions together and don’t involve your child until you have agreed.
- Decide on the values you want your child to learn. Communicate about routines, bedtime, schedules, school expectations, discipline etc. You may not always agree about these and in some cases there will be different expectations at each parent’s home. But it is important that you discuss what goes on at each of your homes.
- Keep each other updated on your contact information. You should each know the other’s address, telephone, work number etc.
Bev Lewis is the founder and President of Positive Solutions Divorce Services®. She offers divorce services and helps couples create their own Separation Agreement through mediation. Having experienced her own difficult divorce, it has been Bev’s mission to keep separating couples out of the adversarial litigation process.