5 Tips for healthy Co-Parenting
Updated: Aug 23, 2020
I have defined what co-parenting is several times in this series but for everyone just tuning in, co-parenting is two parents working together for the sake of the child. The important thing is to focus on having a healthy relationship with your co-parent. It will take time and true practice for sure! This sometimes takes months or even years to develop but the sooner you both can get on one accord, the better off your child will be. At times this can seem quite impossible to get along with your child's parent, especially depending on the history.
But one thing I have realized on this journey is that learning to pause and take a moment before responding to anything will save you time, energy and a headache.
Learning to separate personal feelings is a big part of doing what's best for the child and understanding that everything is not personal. Learning to not get offended or irritated so easily helps to create a clear and open line of communication between you and your co-parent. Of course every situation is different and there is no end all solution to working and creating a partnership with someone to raise a child but having a child means you have to put your emotions on the back burner for them.
Check out my five tips for healthy co-parenting below:
Identify the things you can and cannot change. You can't control who your ex dates or when they choose to introduce them to your kid. But you can establish guidelines that you both agree to, to ensure that you both are comfortable. According to psych central you can implement boundaries in several ways:
Name your limits. You can't set good boundaries if you're unsure of where you stand.
Tune into your feelings.
Give yourself permission.
Make a schedule and stick to it
A schedule is ESSENTIAL to have when developing a parental schedule for your child. Whether you decide to do this formally written or just verbally, do it. Developing a weekly schedule that both of you can follow and your child can handle is the goal. I have found that the 3-4-4-3 schedule has worked better for my child, co-parent and current work schedule. According to Custodyxchange this schedule is where your child spends 3 days with one parent, then 4 days with the other parent. Then it switches, and the child spends 4 days with the first parent, followed by 3 days with the other parent. Creating consistency is key for the child and yourself and their are many ways to do this. Check out other parental schedules here.
Must have open line of consistent communication
Let each other know when you are anticipating or have a life and/or schedule change so that you both have time to make proper arrangements. Remember this is like a business partnership, try at your very best to communicate all changes with your co-parent to ensure you all are on the same page with changes in work schedule, introducing the child to a new partner and etc. Communication always should be child-focused, take out personal matters. No need to revisit the past. Learn about other tactics to improve communication here.
This means being flexible with your parenting schedule, understand that things and opportunities come up. Although you cannot always adjust schedules, be mindful that if you are asking for the other parent to be flexible that you should reciprocate that as well. Also, if you are not at a point where you can be flexible with your co-parent, take into account the way in which you are requesting this. According to the Sampair group, "try to think of parenting time by the month. Instead of being hyper focused on making sure you have the right number of days each week, look at the month as a whole. This allows everyone some flexibility while maintaining the right balance for your child." Look at each point of view from each side and make the decision to decrease conflict.
Although this is sometimes difficult depending on each circumstance, respecting the role that your co-parent plays is critical to healthy co-parenting. Truly make a commitment to respecting each other, even if you have differences maintaining a common ground of respect for each other is important for your child. If you do not respect your co-parent it can confuse the child on the authority that each parent has. Remember, your child looks to the other co-parent for authority, guidance and protection as well.
According to ourfamilywizard blog, these are three ways you can practice respect in co-parenting:
Recognize your co-parent's authority to your child, even if you don't agree with every decision they make. As long as their authority is not putting your child's safety at risk, respect the fact that your co-parent has the best interests of your child at heart in the decisions they make.
Respect each other's parenting time. Allow your child to spend quality time with their other parent without disturbing it in such a way that could ruin it.
Support your child's relationship with your co-parent. Speak respectfully of your co-parent in your child's presence. Again, if your child's safety is not at risk, allow your child to build a loving, personal relationship with both of you.
Healing: The Key to Co-parenting
Co-Parenting: Expectations vs. Reality