Let’s face it, parenting together is hard even when you’re married. It has the potential to be harder when you are a divorced couple who are co-parenting. Co-parenting is very much a balancing act, both with your co-parent and within yourself. The good news is that you are not set up for failure. Here are some tips to make the process beneficial for you and the other parent.
1) Commit to open dialogue and communication with your co-parent. You may have heard the phrase “communication is key” and it truly is, as most conflict that comes up between two people is usually due to what is not said. Planning a schedule for a child or kids with a co-parent can feel like you’re planning the logistics of an invasion. More than half the battle is open communication. Do not assume that your co-parent knows your plans or has remembered plans that you mentioned two weeks ago. Consider using a shared calendar app that both of you can update with information that is relevant to the other.
2) Be a consistent, unified front. Even though you may not have agreed on many things when you were married, you can still agree on some important things. By far the most important thing to agree on are boundaries and rules of behavior for your child or children regardless of which parent they are with. This gives the children vital consistency, which will help smooth their transition and give them less of a chance to try to “play” co-parents against each other. It also takes a major source of stress out of your life and the life of your co-parent if you both know the rules and are able to trust that your co-parent will hold the children to them as well.
3) Remember that this will not be easy. Co-parenting is hard work and you will be called upon many times to put the interests of your child above your own. This can take many forms from agreeing to your co-parent’s request to have the kids one year for Christmas or honoring your child’s request to spend a certain vacation with your co-parent. This is about what your children need, first and foremost.
4) Don’t overshadow your co-parent. The time your children spend with you should not be an endless vacation and party. This creates many problems, including making your co-parent take on a greater burden of child discipline and drudgery. Both parents should strive to give the kids the same ordinary experiences that they did before the divorce because this helps to reinforce the sense of consistency and normalcy for the kids and does not glorify one parent as the “fun” parent over the other.
5) Keep your co-parent up to date on your life. This does not mean you have to tell them every detail and share all things. It means that if there are important changes in your life – such as a new job or a new significant other – they need to know especially if it is going to require a change in schedules or introduce someone new into the lives of the children. You should expect this same honesty from your co-parent as well.
Co-parenting can be a successful partnership that produces happy, well-adjusted, and well-loved kids. If you need help figuring out how to make a co-parenting agreement work, let the empathetic and supportive attorneys at the Easterling Law Firm help. Contact them today to let them help you set up an agreement that will give both parents a chance at success.