Planning schedules, switching houses, or organizing holiday – raising a child in two different homes is far from a piece of cake. Whether this situation is the result of a divorce or a separation or whether you’ve chosen to raise a child with a co-parent, there are certain rules to follow to make co-parenting work. For instance, co-parenting well is about good organization, effective communication and finding the best arrangement to make everyone as happy as possible. Here are a few tips to help you co-parent in a healthy way.
It’s about your child’s needs
When you go through a divorce or a separation, it’s normal to be overwhelmed by emotions such as anger or resentment. However, no matter how bad you feel, you must try not to let this affect your kids. If you need help and advice, it’s best to seek support from your family, friends or a therapist. Your kids will be so much happier if they see their mum and dad happy too.
Learn to communicate effectively
To make the best decisions for your children, you need to be able to communicate with your co-parent. Things like schedules, school appointments or anything else concerning your children should be discussed regularly. Additionally, as your children are growing up fast, you’ll also need to routinely update your arrangements in order to cater to their new needs.
Keep the lines of discussion open and always share any important news related to your children. Don’t hesitate to make use of every tool that could help you to communicate with your co-parent, such as your smartphone, online agenda planners or co-parenting apps.
Work as a team
You may not be in a romantic relationship, but you have something in common: your children. As the other parent is not your enemy (even if your divorce was complicated), it’s advisable to treat them as a colleague. When it comes to juggling all your kids’ school and social events, as well as the extra-curricular activities, performances or doctor’s appointments, being two can certainly make things easier, but with one condition: you must work together as a team and not against each other.
Agree to disagree
Of course, disagreeing with the other parent is not a “co-parent thing”. It happens to all sorts of parents. Therefore, there will be times when you will disagree about things concerning your child, even if you get on well with you co-parent. It’s normal and, in most cases, not a problem. What’s important is how you handle the situation.
As this kind of thing will probably occur fairly frequently throughout your kid’s childhood, you need to be able to let it go. If you disagree with each other, ask yourself if your divergence of opinion is worth fighting over. If not, it’s best to agree to disagree before one of you gets angry.
Believe in consistency
Children need consistency and to grow up in a stable environment. Switching homes regularly can be unsettling, even more so if the rules are completely different at each house. Sit down with your co-parent and discuss what would be best for your child. Bedtime, curfew, rewards, discipline and diet should be similar, regardless of whether your child is staying at mum’s or dad’s. If you can’t reach an accord, at least try to find a compromise.
Always be respectful
Co-parenting after a divorce or a separation is often tough. However, it’s vital that you always remain respectful towards your co-parent when you’re with your kids, no matter what. What you have in common – your children – is worth so much more than your arguments.
On top on that, also pay attention to the way that you talk about the other parent to your kids. Keep in mind that they love them just as much as they love you. Being mean about their dad or mum could truly hurt their feelings. Using your children to get information, or as your messenger, is also a huge no-no.
Create a solid co-parenting arrangement
As it’s difficult to agree on everything all of the time, it’s best to create a parenting plan beforehand. This will help you to prevent any future disagreements and to establish a common set of rules, as well as to clarify the finer details of your custody arrangement and your rights and responsibilities towards your children. Setting out a co-parenting agreement is an effective way of maintaining a healthy relationship and dynamic.
What about you? Are you in a co-parenting situation or do you know someone who is? If yes, what are your best tips for co-parenting effectively?
This is a post from CoParents