Co-parenting takes the effort of both parents to be effective. Check out these 7 tips on effective co-parenting.
1. Be flexible with schedules. Your child’s life revolves around family, school and extracurriculars, and benefits when involved with special events at both households. Keep an open mind about allowing the child to visit when out of town family is here, or there is a family reunion during the summer. Trade a day to the other parent’s custodial time in order to take an extended weekend at the beach. Negotiate with the other parent so that your cooperation is reciprocated, and keep track of the overnights so that you still end up with the same number at the end of the year.
2. Communicate directly with the other parent. Do not rely on your child to be the messenger, but instead set up a steady and healthy written dialogue about the child’s major events.
3. Respect the other parent. Children love both parents and do not want the parents to argue or show any hostility towards each other. It is embarrassing to them. In order to cope, the child sometimes takes on the role of confidante with each parent, and later uses the animosity to influence the parents. It is always best to communicate by email and to be cordial and short when running into the other parent at the child’s events. Exchanges should also be short and sweet, with the child being ready to walk out the door as soon as the other parent arrives.
4. Encourage your child to communicate with the other parent. Make sure they call, email or send cards to the other parent regularly. Your child will be happy when expressing love and affection towards both parents while supported by you. Also allow the child to express feelings and stories to you and allow him to display a photo of the other parent in his room.
5. Choose your battles carefully. Each parent will do things from time to time that you do not agree with, but may not pose a substantial danger to the child. Different bedtimes, not brushing teeth as thoroughly, not cooking regularly, or arriving five minutes late to the custody exchange are all valid concerns. If the child adapts to each household, leave the day to day decisions to the person having custody of the child that day.
6. Seek the advice of a counselor if co-parenting gets difficult. Sometimes the very same pain points you experienced during the relationship continue to bother you when dealing with parenting issues. A counselor or therapist can point out the healthy and unhealthy communications and behaviors and give you strategies to communicate in a healthy way.
7. Enjoy your free time. While your child is with the other parent, catch up on your rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. This is the time to travel, educate yourself, take up a new hobby, and have time with friends. You don’t have to pay for a babysitter or pay for pizza while you are out, and the home will be just as you left it when you return from your adventures.