Parenting isn’t easy on the best of days and when you throw co-parenting into the mix, things can really get complicated. Unless you or your children have been the victim of abuse at the hands of your partner, co-parenting is an option that should be considered in the event of a separation.
What Is Co-Parenting?
Co-parenting, sometimes called joint or shared parenting, is the process of sharing all responsibilities of parenting while separated. Decisions are made together. A united front is presented to the children. And practicing ACT and the three C’s are a key element.
What is ACT in co-parenting? Simply enough, providing accurate, complete, and timely information to the other parent are the elements of ACT. If the information is something you would want to know, provide it your co-parent.
The Three C’s of Co-Parenting
Phone calls, texts, and emails are great sources of communication if your relationship allows it. There are also online resources for co-parenting that will help keep information accurate, complete, and timely. Online shared calendars, Child News Report, which acts like a report card for the child, and more are available to help parents navigate the waters of co-parenting and allow for effective communication.
When communicating with your co-parent, remember to be courteous and respectful in all forms of communication. A few don’ts include not using abusive language and not being accusatory. Instead of “you forgot to pick up Sam today, you idiot!” Try, “Sam was at school for an hour later than normal today, how can we make sure that one of us is always there to get him on time?” The calm and respectful text, email, or phone call will go a lot further than an angry insult.
In order for co-parenting to be effective, both parents must be committed to the process. If only one provides good communication or if one parent is always breaking the rules or pushing the boundaries of what is allowed for the child, co-parenting can become disastrous. Stay committed to being respectful to each other, to keeping the rules consistent, and to being a responsible party of the co-parenting journey.
Effective parenting, whether co-parenting or not, includes many elements and consistency is one of them. Kids feel most secure and safe when they have regular routines, when they know their boundaries, and when they know what to expect. If it’s a free for all with no rules at one home and boundaries with expected behavior at the other home, your child will be confused.
Making Co-Parenting Work
The biggest obstacle to overcome when co-parenting is how to maintain a respectful relationship with your ex. This isn’t always easy, especially if the separation was intense. A helpful tip that many have found useful is to think of your relationship with your ex as a new one. Let the old one go and move forward, not with your ex-spouse, but with the co-parent of your child. By shifting your view from ex-spouse to co-parent, you see that it is about neither of you but instead about your children. Putting them as priority will go a long way in creating a good co-parenting environment.