Co-parenting is a situation where the parents are not in a marriage or romantic relationship with one another but make a commitment to share in the responsibilities of parenting their children. More often than not, the circumstances are acrimonious and stressful which can make the co-parenting relationship a bit challenging. However, it is possible to develop an amicable working relationship with your ex and steer the conflict away from the children.

Why is co-parenting important?

Divorce can be devastating for children and they need both parents’ unconditional love and support. The object of effective co-parenting is to provide your children with the highest quality care with minimal scarring.

When parents work together as partners, children feel secure in the love of both parents and know they are more important than the discord surrounding the split. This reassurance gives them the ability to adjust to the inevitable transitions taking place. Co-parenting establishes similar guidelines and procedures in both households including routines, discipline, and rewards which provides much needed consistency and structure.

In addition, observing how their parents are working out conflict gives kids healthy examples on effective problem solving in the future. Keep in mind that one day you and your ex will probably be grandparents and want to “share” the grandkids, so it really is to your advantage to find a way to work together now.

Benefits of a co-parenting plan:

A co-parenting plan is a contract between parents that sets guidelines on how to raise the children in two separate households, while helping you both avoid the pitfalls that create friction – the kind that sometimes ends up in court. When consistently followed, a good, solid plan provides consistency, establishes boundaries, and even promotes harmony. So, be a fan of the plan! Some of the issues that you may want to address are:

  • Discipline
  • Bedtime routines
  • Daily schedules
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Homework
  • Curfews
  • Education
  • Childcare
  • Financial issues
  • Illness and medical needs
  • Religion
  • Holidays and vacations
  • Extended family
  • Significant others

Seek outside help:

Sometimes, even with the most amicable of splits, establishing an effective co-parenting plan with your ex can be difficult. And, in a high conflict relationship, therapeutic intervention is almost always needed. Besides, it can be very helpful getting an outside perspective to help improve and blend your co-parenting relationship. A qualified mental health professional can provide parenting and dispute resolution coordination, and post-divorce family therapy for all members of the family. For problematic high-conflict situations, parallel parenting is another option for parents who don’t wish to communicate with one another, but share responsibility in the parenting of their children.

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