Tip 3: Co-parent as a team
Parenting is full of decisions that you will have to make with your co-parent, regardless of your attitude toward the other person. Cooperating and communicating without blow-ups or bickering makes decision-making far easier on everybody. If you aim for consistency, cordiality, and teamwork with your co-parent, the details of child-rearing decisions tend to fall into place.
The Goal Is Consistency
It is healthy for children to be exposed to different perspectives and to learn to be flexible, but they also need to know that they are living under the same basic set of expectations at each home. Aiming for consistency between your home and your co-parent’s avoids confusion for your children.
Rules. Rules do not have to be exactly the same between two households. But if you and your co-parent establish generally consistent guidelines, your kids will not have to suffer the confusion of two drastically different disciplinary environments. Important lifestyle rules like homework issues, curfews, and off-limit activities should be followed in both households.
Discipline. Try to follow similar systems of consequences for broken rules, even if the infraction did not happen under your roof. So, if your kids have lost TV privileges while at your co-parents house, follow through with the restriction. The same can be done for rewarding good behavior.
Schedule. Where you can, aim for some consistency in your children’s schedules. Making meals, homework, and bedtimes similar can go a long way toward your child’s adjustment to having two homes.
Making Important Decisions as Co-parents
Major decisions need to be made by both you and your co-parent. Being open, honest, and straightforward about important issues is crucial to both your relationship with your co-parent and your children’s well-being.
Medical needs. Whether you decide to designate one parent to communicate primarily with health care professionals or attend medical appointments together, keep each another in the loop.
Education. Be sure to let the school know about changes in your child’s living situation. Speak with your co-parent ahead of time about class schedules, extra-curricular activities, and parent-teacher conferences. And be polite to each other at school or sports events.
Financial issues. The cost of maintaining two separate households can strain your attempts to be effective co-parents. Set a realistic budget and keep accurate records for shared expenses. Be gracious if your co-parent provides opportunities for your children that you cannot provide.
Resolving Co-parenting Disagreements
As you raise your children, you and your co-parent are bound to disagree over certain issues. Keep the following in mind as you try to reach a consensus.
Respect can go a long way. Simple manners should be the foundation for co-parenting. Being considerate and respectful includes letting your co-parent know about school events, being flexible about your schedule when possible, and taking his or her opinion seriously.
Keep talking. If you disagree about something important, you will need to continue communicating. Never discuss your differences of opinions with or in front of your child. If you still cannot agree, you may need to talk to a third party, like a therapist or mediator.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you disagree about important issues like a medical surgery or choice of school for your child, by all means keep the discussion going. But if you want your child in bed by 7:30 and your co-parent says 8:00, let it go and save your energy for the bigger issues.
Compromise. Yes, you will need to come around to your co-parent’s point of view as often as he or she comes around to yours. It may not always be your first choice, but compromise allows you both to “win” and makes both of you more likely to be flexible in the future.
If you found this information helpful, please browse the blog for additional tips for successful co-parenting and look forward to upcoming tips.
It is important to consult with an Attorney if you are preparing for a divorce involving children or you think that there has been a change in circumstances that should result in a new Custody or Parenting Time Order.
If you have questions regarding custody of your children, please call me, Attorney Steven Storrs, at 269-945-2242 or click here to contact me to set up an appointment to discuss your options.
*This blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult an attorney before making important decisions regarding your individual situation.