Laurie M. Wasserman
5 Tips for Successful Co-Parenting
Although there are available resources for how best to co-parent, there is no collective guidebook on successful co-parenting. Each family dynamic is different and depends on your current relationship with your fellow co-parent. For some, the transition to co-parents may be smooth, painless, and built on a foundation of trust and respect. For others, the transition is not as seamless.
Keep in mind that, at the end of the day, you cannot control the words and actions of your co-parent. Even if things do not work out the way you would like, remember that the needs of the children come before all else. Always start with the question, “Is this what’s best for my child?” and then formulate a plan of action.
If you and your co-parent regularly disagree on matters related to your children, or communications are challenging, consider hiring a certified Parent Coordinator. A Parent Coordinator is a trained, impartial third party who works with parents to reach a fair resolution on issues relating to their children. Parent Coordination is especially helpful for co-parents who find it difficult to come to shared decisions on behalf of their children.
For those who are struggling to communicate or compromise with their co-parent, or those who are newly separated and do not know where to begin, here are five strategies to consider.
1. Establish Boundaries Early
In matters related to raising their children, co-parents often find success when they put aside their personal feelings for one another and act as business colleagues, rather than ex-spouses. To maintain an emotionally neutral and productive atmosphere when meeting with your co-parent, we encourage professional courtesy and mutual respect.
When meeting with your co-parent, limit the number of distractions and conversations that may derail your focus on the well-being of the children. Unless relevant to the lives of your kids, you do not need to share new developments in your personal life with your co-parent.
2. Collaborate on a Written Co-Parenting Plan
A highly detailed and mutually agreed upon co-parenting plan can provide a solid framework for your new family dynamic. Within your co-parenting plan, you may want to include rules and routines for:
Birthdays and holidays (including gifts)
Pick up and drop off times
Introducing new partners
Social media posts involving the children
The parenting plan should address what to do if the parents cannot agree, in the event of a potential conflict in the future. Third parties, such as mediators or Parent Coordinators, may be necessary to reach a plan that both parents find acceptable.
3. Do Not Involve the Children in the Big Decisions
If your children were not involved with sensitive parenting discussions before the separation, there is no reason why they should be included now. A time may come when a consensus cannot be reached regarding a parenting decision. However, leaving a big life decision in the hands of your children may result in undue pressure and stress.
If children are asked to make their parents’ decisions for them, they may feel as though they are burdened with choosing the happiness of one parent over the other. Factoring in your child’s happiness and well-being are always important considerations when creating your co-parenting plan, but their direct input is not needed.
4. Keep Your Personal Feelings About Your Co-Parent to Yourself
Even when your co-parent says or does something you find completely objectionable or inappropriate, always keep in mind the impact your words on the matter will have on your children. For many co-parents, badmouthing their former spouse in front of their children can feel like an emotional catharsis.
Children can internalize parental insults in a way that can harm their relationship with both parents, hinder their emotional development, and validate negative behavior. Feelings of frustration and disappointment toward your former spouse are normal, but instead of venting these emotions to your children (or to others on social media), consider sharing these feelings with a trusted confidant, such as a therapist.
5. Accept Your Limitations as a Co-Parent
You and your co-parent may have decided on a solid co-parenting plan, setting schedules, routines, and rules for behavior. But remember that, at the end of the day, your co-parent is going to parent in their own way. Be ready to accept the fact that following your separation, your co-parent is no longer beholden to the parenting style you two may have established while you were living under one roof.
Give your co-parent space they need to discover how the new family dynamic will work for them and do not pry into how they are helping raise the children. If your children have an issue with how your co-parent is behaving, trust that they will share their concerns with you.
Focus instead on strengthening your own bonds with your children. And remember that if your co-parent willfully ignores anything established in your co-parent plan, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced family planning attorney for guidance.
If you have questions about co-parenting or Parent Coordination services, please contact Laurie Wasserman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-842-1070. The legal team at the Law Office of Laurie M. Wasserman is here to help guide and advocate for you.
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Disclaimer: Opinions and conclusions in these blog posts are solely those of the author unless otherwise indicated. The information contained in this blog is general in nature and is not offered and cannot be considered as legal advice for any particular situation. For legal advice, you should directly consult a lawyer to discuss the specific facts of your matter.
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