Co-Parenting is a beautiful response that puts children first! The first step could be to print out this quote and remind yourself daily…Some of you may be wondering, what if I want to co-parent though the other parent isn’t willing to? That is a very fair question and can be the likely scenario especially in the early days though it’s important that as the one wanting to commit to co-parenting then it must begin with you. Consider this for a moment…imagine walking a thousand miles in your children’s shoes and if you have then what would you do better? Below are some tips…Planning – In the beginning…
- Develop a co-parenting plan; you may find this happens quite organically. If not, use the below as a guideline…
- outline a starting care schedule
- financial i.e. child support/school fees
- how to handle your children’s medical needs or concerns
- discipline and household rules/boundaries
- holidays and special events (some families do half and half or alternate years)…you may eventually be able to share these days together
- decision-making guidelines
- Aim for a flexible attitude – It benefits everyone to be flexible about your arrangements – I have expanded more on this below…
- Accept different parenting styles; just as when you were together, you each have a different style. Deal with it…
- Keep your ex-partner up to speed with ‘what’s happening’; find a way to communicate about what’s happening that works for you. We share online calendar and we use a co-parenting app.
- Give your ex-partner some time to learn the ropes; nobody is perfect and this is new for everyone. Be compassionate and patient.
- Be prepared for some negative feelings; Avoid lashing back, time heals. That said, remain on purpose to creating a positive co-parenting relationship. It will happen.
- Communication – Ooooh that word, it is after all the start and end to everything. They say, the quality of our life is determined by the quality of our communication and the quality of our communication is determined by the quality of our questions. YEP questions not statements!! Communication is the art in whichwe impart or exchange information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium. The question being here is how do you best communicate when it comes to co-parenting? Keeping in mind that in the beginning it’s a very conscious effort as to the way you respond with the other parent of your children, with practice it does become a way of life. The answer is always communicate with great thought, respect, compassion and consideration.
How; Listen, breathe…respond! Remember Co-Parenting is a beautiful response that puts children first.
**If communication is difficult in the beginning, try using a communication book or an app that makes it easier for you**
- Flexibility – Eeek you mean I have to be flexible even though we are no longer living together? YEP…probably more so!
You will find it quite common that though you have separated there still tends to be a primary parent. In the early years and still today to some extent, I had the time, he had the finances. So with younger children who are needier (though with teenagers, I am forever the taxi driver and I refer to more demanding of you emotionally) – it was our ideal that one parent be more available. In the beginning I worked weekends in retail whilst dad has a corporate career working Monday – Friday. In this case, it worked well for us that our children were with me from a Sunday night through to Friday afternoon and then with their dad on the weekend. It meant they were not away from either parent for too long whilst both parents could work and generate their own income outside of other financial arrangements you may have agreed to. This created a routine and as time moved on and both children were at school, I personally found a M-F job (retail wasn’t for me), we decided upon a new routine – 2,2,3…Mon/Tues with Dad, Wed/Thurs with Mum, Fri/Sat/Sun with Dad and then Mon/Tues with Mum and so on…
The key is flexibility, communicate your needs with each other and form an arrangement. If it doesn’t work, communicate that and then make a new arrangement. Then there will be sport and starting school etc…Your flexibility will need to adapt as your children grow and their circumstances change.
One big NO NO….Do not keep score! Look after your children as they require it. If one of you has to go away on a work thing or plans a holiday with their new partner – take your kids, make it easy!
- Take The Higher Road – Commit to leading with emotional integrity!
If you do take the high road, in the long run your children will admire you for it.
Avoid sabotaging the relationship your children have with the other parent. This serves no-one and the biggest losers are your children.
I couldn’t have said it any better than Dr Phil;
There are two important rules concerning children during times of crisis and instability in your family:
1. Do not burden your children with situations they cannot control. Children should not bear such a responsibility. It will promote feelings of helplessness and insecurity, causing them to question their own strengths and abilities.
2. Do not ask your children to deal with adult issues. Children are not equipped to understand adult problems. Their focus should be on navigating the various child development stages they go through.
In conclusion, this really is a snapshot of my experience of co-parenting for almost a decade and I truly believe I have created the most ideal scenario possible for my children. It all began with a decision and that was followed up with commitment, communication and patience. Though there were the tough times, in the long run by taking the high road – those tough times are very much in the past and today my children have a large extended family whom love them very much. Divorce ends marriages though the family lives on!
“The difficult is what takes a little time. The impossible is what takes a little longer.”
– Fridtiof Nansen, Norwegian explorer (1861-1930)