Many parents share parenting responsibilities with a partner: this partner may be a spouse or significant other, or it may be an ex. Regardless of your relationship status, it’s important to create a strong and positive partnership that enables you to raise your children as effectively as possible.
Co-parenting often means sharing parenting responsibilities with an ex. This can be stressful and a successful co-parenting journey requires open communication, patience, and empathy; it’s a difficult process to navigate for the parents and children alike. Studies have shown that parents with low-conflict relationships are more likely than those with high-conflict relationships to work as a team; they interact with their children together and can learn from each other’s parenting styles. This type of supportive parenting boosts children’s emotional and behavioral development. On the other hand, children of parents with a high-conflict relationship can be more anxious, aggressive, and have poor social skills.
The way you co-parent has a huge impact on your child’s growth and well-being. Here are several tips for positive co-parenting.
Keep an open dialogue
Discuss how often and how you will communicate, whether it be email, text, phone calls, or face to face conversation. There are even websites you can use such as Our Family Wizard which gives separated or divorced couples tools to schedule child custody, track parenting time, share important family information, manage expenses, and more.
Agree on rules and keep them consistent in both households
It’s important for children to have routine and structure. Daily events like meal time, bed time, homework, and chores should be consistent. The child should be aware that no matter where he is, the same rules apply. Research has shown that a unified parenting approach contributes to a child’s well-being.
Avoid negative talk
Don’t allow your children to speak negatively about your ex (even if you secretly like it). And, just as importantly, if not more so, avoid saying critical things or having a negative tone when talking about your co-parenting partner.
Negotiate extended family involvement
Discuss the role your extended family will play in the care of your child. How often will they get to see your kids? What will they do with them?
Neither parent should be the “fun” one
For a separated or divorced couple, one parent often spends more time with the child than the other, and the parent who spends less time with the child sometimes becomes the “fun” parent. This can happen because the less-seen parent may not be “in the trenches” as much: they aren’t the one telling your child to do his homework or eat his vegetables every day; they may not have to discipline your child as much; and they want to make the most of their time with your child so they’ll go out and do fun things together. Make sure that the less-seen parent is “boring” too. Try to keep things balanced.