Co-parenting can go as smoothly as the parties allow it to. It doesn’t have to be complicated or have a lot of conflict. However, it does not mean that when parties disagree on issues that it is unsuccessful. Co-parenting simply means that parents communicate effectively and collaborate on important decisions regarding their child(ren). Disagreements, confusion, etc. are not necessarily nonexistent when parents co-parent successfully. Judges understand the nuances involved when faced with the challenges of coming up with a workable co-parenting agreement.
Signs of “Good” of Co-parenting
There is an underlying concept of what “good” or “favorable” co-parenting looks like and it’s based on several principles. The principles center around maintaining the best environment for the mental, emotional, intellectual and physical development of the child(ren). To ensure that these principles are given the utmost consideration there are some vital tips parents should keep in mind.
- Maintain clear boundaries. This means that each parent should keep in mind the things they have control over and those they do not. Know your limits and have reasonable expectations.
- Set & keep a predetermined schedule. The more precise and exact the time, location, etc. the parenting schedule is the better it is for all involved.
- Be flexible. Setting a precise schedule does not mean that you need to firm and uncooperative when it comes to emergencies or unexpected/unforeseen events. Life is full of these sort of things so it is important to remember that when co-parenting.
- Extend courtesies to each other. You don’t have to love each other anymore but treat the other parent the way you want them to treat you. (In my Michelle Obama voice “they go low, you go high”.)
- Keep the kids out of it. This means the child(ren) should not be relaying messages, made to choose sides or witness any negativity about either parent.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Talking, texting, emailing, using an app, etc. whatever means or method you choose you should definitely communicate. You don’t have to respond, especially if you’re tempted to respond negatively, but you should definitely include the other parent in the important things.
- Attend events without tension. You can share events, occasions, etc. without conflict. (Of course if there’s a history of any sort of violence this may not be the best thing.) You can go in shifts, agree to stay in a certain area or similar, but you don’t have to anticipate tension when attending an event at the same time.
- Respect each parent’s role. Each parent has a role in their child’s life. Never mind what you think of it, how important it is or how meaningful it is, it exists. You should respect the other parent’s role no matter what.
- Check yourself. You have an obligation and a duty to keep yourself in line when it comes to co-parenting. If you each do this then the other does not need to.
- It’s about your child(ren), not either of you. This is self-explanatory.
“Not So Good” but Effective Coparenting
As I stated above, effective co-parenting can still exist despite all of the elements mentioned. Of course, studies have shown that low conflict co-parenting rears emotionally and mentally stable children. However, children are not doomed because they were not raised by “ideal” co-parents.
I want to highlight the fact that I am not referring to “parallel parenting” where each parent don’t communicate and raise their children in two separate households with hardly any interaction with each other. That is very different from the “not so good” co-parenting I am referring to. That being said, let’s explore co-parenting situations where all the elements I discussed are not present.
- You won’t agree on EVERYTHING. And it’s perfectly ok. How many times did you actually agree when you were together?
- Things happen. It’s life, surprises come up that should not turn your entire world upside down if you have to change things around.
- Biting the bullet, so to speak, won’t kill you. Choose your battles wisely, some things are best left unsaid or not responded to. There will times when the other parent tries to ruffle your feathers, be the bigger person.
- Keeping a record of interactions is wise. It is not problematic to keep some sort of diary/journal of all interactions like pickup and/or drop off just to maintain some organization.
- Short conversations or exchanges are not antagonistic. Being civil sometimes means keeping the conversations to a few words or phrases and that’s it.
- Different parenting styles is acceptable. No need to parent the same way, in fact, it’s more beneficial if you don’t. You should have the same intentions but don’t have be identical in your means of acquiring them.
- You are are not obligated to feel comfortable being in their presence. It is not wrong if you opt out of attending certain events because you don’t want to be in the same room.
- Sharing is not always caring. Keeping some things, that are not important, between you and your child and/or your new significant other is not detrimental.
- Having a new significant other is not a bad thing. Many people think dating or having a live-in paramour looks bad to the other parent and/or the court. This is not necessarily the case as long as they don’t pose a risk to the child(ren).
- Your kids having issues with either or both of you it totally fine. Kids can be manipulative and controlling, so they will push your buttons this should not affect your co-parenting.
Co-parenting may look different for each family, this is totally acceptable. Every single family has it’s own set of issues, expectations, etc. So if your co-parenting relationship seems unique because of any of these reasons it’s ok. Try to focus on your overall objective, that is to ensure that your child(ren)’s well-being is paramount.
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