If you and your soon to be ex-spouse have minor children, you will need to find a way to have a successful co-parenting relationship. With any successful co-parenting relationship, the interests of your children need to be put above your own. Though there are some situations which make it difficult or impossible to do so, for the majority of divorcing parents it will be necessary to form and maintain an amicable relationship. Children should not be put in the position of having to choose sides or suffer the fallout from emotional crossfire.
Here are some key practices that will help you graciously co-parent, giving your children the stability and close relationship they desire with both parents.
1. Create a Plan
Like with any significant endeavor, having a plan creates a solid foundation for healthy co-parenting.
A strong co-parenting plan is based on everyone’s current circumstances while doing everything you can to anticipate the future. The basics of the plan should include issues such as parenting time, living arrangements, financial support, health care, education, extracurricular activities, and childcare.
Set aside time to sit down together and work out a routine that will work for everyone. Maybe involve a parenting coordinator if there continue to be conflicts.
2. Effectively Communicate
There’s no substitute for effective communication while co-parenting. That’s why it’s essential to keep lines of communication open with your ex-spouse, as well as to approach communication in a business-like way.
In some cases, a weekly status meeting is helpful – whether it’s in-person, online, by email, or speaking on the phone. You can also utilize the services of a co-parenting communication application such as Our Family Wizard or Talking Parents. These programs also have online calendars that can be shared with each other to keep track of appointments and dates.
Another important factor is establishing a team-like atmosphere for co-parenting – rather than an adversarial one. Your children’s needs are paramount and ensuring they see a unified front for them even though are not unified individually, should be a priority.
Creating co-parenting consistency helps establish teamwork. For example, maintaining consistent rules between the two households means your children won’t deal with two different disciplinary environments.
There are many other ways you can work with your spouse to create effective teamwork, including maintaining a consistent schedule regarding homework, meals, bedtimes, etc. don’t withhold important information from each other and make sure to make decisions as a parent team. Don’t play the children against the other parent by involving them in the conversations or disputes.
4. Keep it Respectful
Effective co-parenting means respecting the other parent; the family dynamic becomes unhealthy without respect.
For one, don’t badmouth your co-parent in front of your children. Save this form of venting for friends, parents, and therapists – not for your kids. When speaking about your ex, use positive or neutral comments and work hard to support a good relationship between your former spouse and your children. Remember the golden rule and treat your former spouse as you would like to be treated. Never, ever ask your children to act as spies or question them about their other parent.
Keeping messages and conversations polite and on-topic is another way to show respect.
5. Create Harmony
Everything listed above – from creating a plan to effective communication – helps create harmony. So does speaking positively about your co-parent, making sure never to put your children in the middle, and keeping issues between you and your co-parent to yourself.
Another way to create harmony is via compromise. You and your co-parent won’t agree on everything, but equally compromising helps keep the present more harmonious while also developing flexibility in the future.
Decide together which values you want your children to learn and make sure your parenting styles back up those values. Be consistent in both homes when it comes to routines, rules, school expectations, bedtimes and discipline. Make certain your children have everything they need at both homes and cheerfully fix problems that will inevitably occur in a two-household family.
Successful co-parenting helps ease the sadness, stress, and other complications of divorce. Following a consistent plan and being respectful can avoid issues that negatively impact your children.
Trying to navigate a successful co-parenting relationship can be difficult. It is important to hire an experienced family law attorney such as Minella Law Group with expert knowledge of the legal standards involved to successfully modify your current child custody visitation order. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at (619) 289-7948. We look forward to helping you.