Agreeing on parenting issues can be difficult even for parents who live together. Single, separated or divorced parents face additional challenges when it comes to co-parenting.
Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can use to collaborate more effectively with your co-parent.
1. Create a parenting plan
A written parenting plan helps to ensure that you and your children’s other parent are on the same page about important matters, such as:
- Who will take the kids to school?
- Who pays for extracurricular activities?
- Who makes medical and legal decisions for the kids?
- Will the children attend religious services? Where?
Depending on your circumstances, a parenting plan may be an informal agreement or a legal document.
2. Communicate effectively
Consider using an online calendar to keep track of your kids’ schedules. If you need to modify the schedule, discuss it with your co-parent in advance. Avoid using your children as messengers.
3. Respect each other’s parenting styles
Consistency is important, but you can not expect your co-parent to do everything to your precise specifications. You may need to compromise on some parenting issues, such as bedtime, chores or screen time.
4. Help your children feel secure
Let your kids choose what belongings to bring to their other parent’s house. Even if you are a non-custodial parent, providing your children their own room in your home can ensure that they always feel welcome and secure. Co-parenting is easier when kids enjoy spending time with both parents.
5. Avoid competition
Co-parenting is not a contest. Do not try to buy your children’s affection with expensive gifts or win them over by being more permissive than your co-parent.
Learning to co-parent successfully is not always easy, but the benefits for you and your children are well worth the effort.