“Co-parenting is not a competition between two homes. It is a collaboration of parents who are doing what is best for the children.” – Unknown
Co parenting is an arrangement after divorce in which both parents participate in their children's upbringing and activities. People may choose to co-parent to put children's wellbeing ahead of conflict, as contact with both parents is often beneficial for kids. Tips for co parenting include focusing on one's kids, committing to at least minimal communication with an ex, and letting go of differences.
If this is your first divorce, you’ll hear the words “co-parent” quite often. But what does that mean? And how is it possible to do that with someone who has hurt you, betrayed you, or simply stopped loving you? Perhaps you also have stopped loving your ex and would rather have as little to do with him or her as possible.
You don’t know what you don’t know — at least not yet. Read on:
What Is Co Parenting?
Co parenting is defined as “a post-divorce parenting arrangement in which both parents continue to jointly participate in their children’s upbringing and activities. This involves a substantial amount of interaction between the parents (both in public and in private),” according to MR. Men’s Rights’ website.
1. It’s about your kids.
Your kids need you both, even if you and your ex don’t agree on some things. Or even if you don’t agree on most things. Your kids need you both because a strong attachment to both of you is the foundation for a healthy and successful future for them.
Unless there is a serious reason why a parent shouldn’t be involved, usually determined by a judge, your kids need you both.
2. It’s about ending the conflict.
Co parenting means that you put the children ahead of your emotions about your ex. You and your ex probably agree on one thing: Your kids are the most important people in your life, and you want to do what is best for them.
Even if you don’t agree on anything else, one thing is almost certain: You both love your kids. So, for their sake, can you put your love for your kids and their wellbeing ahead of your negative feelings about your ex?
How To Co-Parent:
1. Make a schedule that you both agree to.
Make the schedule realistic for both of you, your work schedules, and your kids’ school schedules. Put it in writing so there is no misunderstanding about what you have agreed to.
2. Commit to at least minimal communication.
At the minimum, your communication should help make seamless transitions between on-and off-duty parenting time. Your kids will feel secure knowing that their parents are working together even if divorced. Communication should be brief, neutral, and focused on a specific topic or request. This could be by email or text (if time-sensitive).
Here are some examples:
a. Sam has been more clingy than usual. He needs more hugs.
b. Mel has a spelling test on Friday. Can you please help her practice?
c. Ruby has a birthday party on Saturday at Jax’s house. Can you take her? I would like to take her if you can’t. Please let me know.
d. Toby needs a new backpack. I will bring him one and drop it off tomorrow.
3. With even a little communication, you can make it easier for your kids.
But the key is keeping your annoyance or anger out of the email or text. Here are some communication examples that will definitely make things worse for you and your kids:
a. I can’t believe you let the kids stay up so late on a school night! What were you thinking?
b. Jess says she hates your cooking. And you need to stop giving them dessert if they don’t finish their dinner.