The Dos and Don’ts of Successful Co-Parenting
Going through a divorce is never easy, but divorcing when there are children involved make things exponentially more complicated. No matter how old your children may be, the fact remains that co-parenting will now be an important responsibility of both you and your ex. By keeping some general guidelines in mind as you prepare for your co-parenting journey, however, you can have better chances of success.
DO Agree on Consistent, Shared Rules
One of the most important bases for successful co-parenting is for both parents to establish consistent ground rules that are enforced equally at each household. For example, if your child’s bedtime is at 9PM at your house on school nights, then that 9PM bedtime should also be enforced at the other parent’s house.
Having consistent, shared rules between households will keep your children well adjusted and send the message that both parents are on the same page. Take note that I know consistency between houses is easier said than done, so aim for #progressnotperfection.
DO Learn How to Communicate Peacefully
No matter what the terms of the divorce–whether it was amicable or far from it– you both must establish a workable communication plan with each other. For example, some co-parents find that having conversations face-to-face or even over the phone always lead to an argument. In such situations, it may be best to communicate via e-mail, where both parties will have the opportunity to convey what they want to say without being interrupted.
On the other hand, for situations of more amicable divorces, maintaining telephone or face-to-face communication may be best.
(My personal co-parenting tip: In the first few years after my divorce, we sent a journal back and forth with our pre-school-aged daughter. Her journal shared a slice of her life over at each house — the activities she participated in, the food she ate, and any medicine she took. This helped us share the essential and valuable information, but not have to get on the phone, as it was still hard for us not to pull in emotions when talking with each other.)
DO Prioritize Your Child’s Needs and Well-Being
Above all else, your child’s well-being should always be at the forefront of all the decisions you make as a co-parent. There will likely be situations where your ex is not doing things the way you would they are making choices that upset you. It’s at these times that you will need to remind yourself this: at the end of the day, what matters is that your child is taken care of and is given all the best chances for a successful future.
DON’T Sabotage Parenting Relationships
One of the worst things you can do in terms of co-parenting is that of speaking badly of your ex or otherwise doing anything to hurt your child’s relationship with the other parent. All too often, parents will do this without even realizing what they’re doing, especially when emotions are high after a divorce.
As a general rule, both parents should agree to never speak poorly of each other in front of their children.
DON’T Give Into Temptation to Be the “Cool” Parent
Depending on your child’s age, there is a chance that you’ll find your kid trying to “push the boundaries” and see what he or she can get away with in your household. Children are a lot smarter than we tend to give them credit for, so don’t be surprised if your child tries to pit you and the other parent against each other in an effort to get something they want.
For example, your child might beg you to let him or her stay up past the agreed-upon bedtime. And while the thought of being the “cool” parent and letting your child bend the rules a bit may be appealing, it’s important to remember the rules that you and your ex agreed upon to maintain stability between households.
Co-parenting certainly comes with its unique challenges and struggles, but if you keep these simple guidelines in mind, you can make the process of co-parenting smoother.
For more help with overcoming your divorce and moving on with your life, feel free to contact me today; I’m always happy to help you.