These days, co-parenting is more common than you might think. In the US, over half of all families are recoupled or remarried, meaning that there are millions of co-parenting teams successfully raising their children all over the country, despite doing so from separate households. If you and your partner have recently separated and you’re worried about how to navigate this new parenting style, this guide will give you everything you need to know.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Co-parenting
First, let’s take a look at the Dos:
- Do develop a healthy communication style. This will take time and practice, but discussing issues openly and positively will help your child see you still have a healthy relationship. Avoid name calling, finger pointing, and be professional in how you text, email, and talk to the other parent. If communication fails, consider getting a third party involved, such as a “co-parent coach.”
- Do be consistent. Sit down and come up with ground rules and a schedule that works for both of you and agree to stick to it. This structure is not only good for your co-parenting relationship, but for your child too.
- Do set boundaries. Think of your new relationship as more of a business relationship – never let your ex-partner cross the line and make your boundaries clear. By the same token, do not think that you can cross the line. Be respectful, for the kid’s sake.
- Do get an uncontested divorce to make the separation official. This is the easiest way to separate legally if you are both on the same page. If not uncontested, at least remain amicable.
And here are some of the Don’ts:
- Don’t sabotage your child’s relationship with their other parent. Absent abuse or neglect, your child deserves a loving relationship with each of you. Don’t put down the other parent in front of the children or talk badly about the other parent, even if you are correct. Children hear everything.
- Don’t burden your child. Making them choose between you or telling them negative things about your ex-partner will only hurt them and they may end up resenting you.
- Don’t use your child to manipulate your ex-partner. They should never be used as a bargaining chip or a way to make your partner feel guilty. Leave them out of any arguments or disagreements.
How to achieve the perfect co-parenting relationship
This goes back to our point about treating your co-parenting relationship like a business arrangement. Treat your partner with the respect you would show a business partner and expect the same level of respect in return.
Don’t Live in the Past
It’s time to leave the past behind and forge a new relationship based on your new circumstances. Avoid discussing past issues you had when you were together, and focus your energy on creating the best future for your child.
No matter your feelings towards your ex-partner, put those to one side and focus on your child. Your conversations should focus on your parenting duties, co-parenting schedule in a positive way. When you keep your communication child-focused, it leaves little room for resentment or anger. Even if you do get angry, try to find another avenue for venting or resolving it, such as a friend, therapist, or coach (someone removed from the situation and far from the kids).
Compromise is Key
There will be times when you disagree with your ex-partner, whether it’s about taking your child away on vacation or which school they should attend. It might be a health care decision or an extracurricular activity. Remember, you are equals in your co-parenting team and both voices should be heard. The best way to get the best result is to learn that compromise doesn’t mean defeat. It simply means you’re putting your child’s best interests before your wants.
A Trusted Family Lawyer When You Need Us
If you are trying to keep your co-parenting relationship intact and need an amicable divorce, we are here to help. At Van Siclen, Stocks & Firkins, we have lawyers who have seen just about every situation and every dispute which may arise in separated families. We emphasize both ends of the spectrum and cases in between, from the complex and contested to the simple and friendly divorce proceedings and can ensure the process is as smooth and stress-free as possible.