How to Transition from Parents to Co-Parents
Co-parenting is stressful, and the pandemic has not made life any easier. Whether you are recently separated or divorced, living together or separately, the team at the Law Office of Laurie M. Wasserman can help you transition from parents to co-parents.
What is Co-Parenting?
Co-parenting is when separated parents continue to take care of their children together, despite the end of their relationship. It is different from the parenting that parents do when they live together, because it requires a conscious effort to communicate and to keep both parents involved. Co-parenting ensures that both parents play active roles in their children’s lives. Healthy co-parenting is important to the development of children, and unless there is a serious reason why one parent’s involvement should be lessened, such as domestic violence or substance abuse, a Court may prefer that parents attempt to co-parent.
Co-Parenting Tips for Success
Communication is key. Miscommunication happens all the time. Taking steps to avoid it will help keep the relationship cordial. Decide ahead of time how you will communicate with each other, when, and with what frequency. We encourage you to make these decisions together. And remember, communication is a two-way street. Make requests instead of demands. Listen and ask for each other’s opinions. Apologize and learn to move forward in the best interest of your children. If it helps, think of this interaction now as a business relationship, instead of a personal one. Talk to and treat your ex as you would a coworker. Respect goes a long way in maintaining a healthy long-term co-parenting relationship.
Collaborate as a team. Work together to decide on your co-parenting rules and how to manage schedules. Co-parenting relationships are most effective when ground rules are in place and remain consistent between parents. For example, do you wish to enforce the same discipline rules in both homes, or do you understand that each parent will make a separate set of rules and the children will learn what is acceptable at each home? Other significant decisions, such as medical needs, financial needs, or education (especially during COVID-19), should be made by both parents together. These decisions should focus on the child's well-being. When in doubt, compromise.
Set aside your differences. In order to have a successful co-parenting relationship, you must set aside your personal feelings about your ex for the sake of your children. We encourage you to respond to things logically instead of emotionally and to focus on what is in the best interest of your children. You may be thinking, “easier said than done,” and that is true—it is very difficult. It is a learning process. If you ever doubt yourself, take a few minutes to collect your thoughts before acting or responding to something that upsets you. Co-parenting is about your children, not you.
Stay positive and remember to celebrate. Negativity is emotionally draining. Try to focus on the positive aspects of co-parenting and encourage each other’s strengths in the relationship. This positivity will make everyone feel safer and more appreciated, especially when communicated in front of your children. And remember to celebrate. When a birthday pops up, or if your ex gets a promotion at work, make sure you acknowledge the milestone in front of your children.
“Parent Coordination” Can Help
If you and your ex have a difficult time co-parenting, we recommend considering Parent Coordination. Parent Coordination is a service for separated parents. Instead of contacting their respective attorneys, the parents meet regularly with a certified Parent Coordinator (PC) to resolve disputes regarding their shared children. Parent Coordination can save you time and money, and it benefits the parents and the children.
Parent Coordinators (PC) are specially trained to resolve disputes in high-conflict custody matters. In an attempt to prevent the parents from having to return to Court, Parent Coordinators can help to draft a parenting plan, monitor continued compliance of the parenting plan, and help resolve minor disputes between parents. Most importantly, when parents cannot reach a consensus, the Parent Coordinator could have the ability to decide certain issues on their behalf.
Parent Coordination is especially helpful for exes that have a difficult time getting along and need outside help to resolve disagreements. Here are some instances that we recommend you consider hiring a certified Parent Coordinator:
You and your ex have a difficult time making joint decisions about your children.
You and your ex constantly fight over your children and custody schedules.
You and/or your ex frequently reach out to legal counsel for help with custody disagreements.
You and your ex argue about the day-to-day issues.
If you have questions about transitioning from parents to co-parents, contact Laurie Wasserman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our main number 410-842-1070. For the foreseeable future, we will be available by telephone and virtually to serve our clients.