Co-parenting is a parenting partnership that requires communication and cooperation. These two things probably don’t come easily to a couple that have divorced. The marriage might be over, but the family is not. In order to co-parent effectively, each parent must start thinking of the relationship in a totally new light. Now each parent must make the mature, responsible decision to put the child’s needs ahead of their own.
The parenting partnership, when done well, really does provide the best situation for your growing children. Your kids should recognize that they are more important than the conflict that ended the marriage. Children whose divorced parents have a cooperative relationship feel more secure, see the value of consistency, understand problem-solving better and have a healthy example to follow.
The difficult key to co-parenting successfully is to focus only on the children. This means putting your own emotions of anger, resentment and hurt toward your ex aside for the sake of focusing on your child’s future, well-being, and stability. After all, you are the adult here. Never vent to your child. Your feelings are important, but get them out somewhere else… a therapist, a friend, even exercise are great outlets for your emotions. Children should never be in the middle of the emotional battle between parents. Do not use them as a sounding board or as messengers between the two of you.
Communication is extremely important as co-parents. Establishing a method that works for you and keeps it conflict-free may take some trial and error. Do you work better with phone, email or text? The following tools will help you no matter which avenue you use.
- Set a business like tone — approach with cordiality, respect and neutrality. Relax and talk slowly.
- Make requests instead of statements or demands.
- Listen — this is a mature form of communication.
- Show restraint — don’t push buttons with your ex, and learn when to be quiet and not to overreact.
- Commit to consistency — whether that is meeting or talking on a regular basis, show that you are a united front for your child.
- Keep conversation kid-focused.
- Ask his or her opinion — this goes a long way for positive communication and respect.
- Apologize when you need to, and do it sincerely.
- Chill out and be flexible.
Your child needs two responsible, communicative parents who love them and are focused on their well-being and health. When this can happen, they have a head start on a successful future. Of course you can only control you, so do your part to be part of the team and see what happens.