Co-parenting, at its best, is two parents parenting in harmony in the best interest2 of their children…
When separating/divorcing from your children’s other parent, a lot has to be reconsidered. While living under one roof does not make a family perfect, living under two certainly will bring its share of challenges.
The best interests of the children must always come first
Many things will have to be re-thought and although the best interests of the children must always come first, parents have to agree on a suitable arrangement which will fit with their new schedule.
Co-parenting is a wonderful concept but not everyone is able to dive right into it
Many emotions are at stake and co-parenting with someone who is no longer a person you trust or love or even like, can stir up a whole other level of emotions. So how can co-parenting work and be in the best interests of the children, when you really don’t see eye to eye?
Moving on requires time to come to terms emotionally with the meaning of this life transition. This can take time and should not interfere with your role and responsibilities of being a parent.
Moving forward, on the other hand, is about consciously applying behaviours which are going to benefit the adjustments necessary for transitioning from one household to two households – and to allow the children to feel safe adjusting to the same while being able to love and be loved by both parents.
Co-parenting at its best and at its most challenging
Co-parenting, at its best, is two parents parenting in harmony in the best interests of their children.
Co-parenting, at its most challenging, is two parents demonstrating that they are unable to communicate with each other in a respectful manner.
Here are a few tips to manage this transition:
1. It’s not about you, it’s about the children
Remind yourselves that this is not the time to bring back the past, your issues, your ‘grown up issues’, your hurt, and your anger.
It is about the children and giving them permission to feel safe and loved.
2. Keep communication business-like and refrain from making things personal
In a business relationship, we seldom share personal information. It is no longer your business what is happening in your co-parent’s personal life as long as each parent is confident that they conduct their personal lives in the best interests of the children in mind.
Your only business is your children.
3. Don’t inform. Discuss
Co-parents who just inform ‘after the fact’, lay a ground for potential conflict. It translates little respect towards the other parent’s opinion and forces a “my way or the highway” attitude.
When you choose to discuss issues or decision-making with your co-parent, you open the door for valuing the other parent’s opinion and properly consider what is in the best interests of the children.
4. Share information, not feelings
When you allow your emotions to do the talking, it’s likely going to get messy.
Emotions, even though normal, and necessary, are seldom ground for good communication. Whether face-to-face, by email or messages, stick to sharing information.
Emotions will trick you into bringing up the past, blaming, criticising, threatening and even punishing your co-parent, and will drive you to make a point rather than make a difference.
5. Every problem has its solution
Sometimes things may seem far from being solvable, yet every problem has its solution.
Instead, ask yourself: “Is focusing on the problem helping me get what I want?” Be a problem solver.
6. Be nice to each other
As parents we are affected when our children are mean to one another. Just imagine what watching their parents being ugly to each other does to them. It is not what we want for them and we most likely put efforts in teaching them to be nice to one another.
We are their role models, first and foremost, so let’s be a good example to them and be nice to your co-parent.
In applying these principles, you will improve the quality of your co-parenting and uplift the environment for your children.