How to Co-Parent Effectively

a parent holding a child's hand
*Collaborative Post

Separation and divorce are challenging for all involved, especially children. The disruption in routine and familial relationships can be difficult for them to comprehend. As a parent, handling an emotionally-charged situation with delicacy and grace is critical. To do so, one must learn how to co-parent.

Co-parenting involves sharing parenting duties with an ex-partner. There are many ways to co-parent, but the best approach often involves working together amicably so that both parents can be present in the child’s life. This helps keep the focus on what’s best for the children.

Follow the tips below to learn more about how to raise kids in two households effectively.

Effective Communication

The first step in co-parenting is to use respectful communication with your children and ex. There are many ways you can do this.

First, never blame, vent, or speak negatively about your ex-partner in front of your child. It might confuse a child who is too young to understand what’s happening, and they might blame themselves for their parents not getting along. 

Understand that children shouldn’t be involved in adult conversations. And don’t use your child as a messenger between the other parent. As adults, you have the responsibility to work out your problems together. 

When speaking to your ex-partner, use “I” statements to communicate how you are feeling. Expressing how something makes you feel and communicating your needs helps what you are saying sound less like an attack or criticism.

Active listening between parents is crucial. Listen to what the other has to say without getting defensive, and respond to what they are saying using their own words. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. 

Come Up With a Parenting Plan

Parenting plans are agreements between separated parents that define the responsibilities of each parent for their child. Not only do they set clear expectations, but they help to reduce anxiety and conflict. 

Parenting plans are created with the needs of the child at the forefront. According to Twyford Law Office, “The individual interests and preferences of the child’s parents take a backseat to their child’s interests and well-being.” You can devise a parenting plan with a mediator or family law attorney.

A parenting plan addresses arrangements such as education, visitation schedules, holidays, finances, and dispute resolutions. It should also include backup plans for when you need to make modifications. Parenting plans should be flexible, so you can make necessary changes as needed.

Be Consistent

Providing your child with a consistent and stable environment is crucial for their emotional and psychological development. Having expectations met by their parents adds to their sense of security. If you don’t follow through with your arrangements, they will come to doubt that you will do what you say you will.

Although each parent will live in separate households, they should keep rules, routines, and discipline consistent with each other. That leaves less room for favoritism and avoids confusion.

Encourage Your Kids to Spend Time With the Other Parent

Don’t discourage your child from spending time with their other parent. You should encourage them to invite both parents so they don’t have to choose who to invite to their events. When you see your ex-partner in public in front of your kid, make sure not to show animosity toward them. This prevents your child from thinking both parents can’t be in the same place or that he or she is at fault for his parents’ actions.

While each parenting situation is unique, by following these tips, you can be sure you are focused on working together, resolving conflict, and putting your child’s best interests first.

*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.

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