When parents have reached a decision to end their relationship, it can be a very difficult time. Not only are you faced with rebuilding your life again without the partner you’d hope to spend the rest of your life with, you now have to continue with everyday life, which can feel like a massive chore. When you have a child together things can seem a lot harder and not showing your child how painful the divorce or breakup is, can be tough. Just because your relationship together couldn’t work out, doesn’t mean you can’t build a completely different one together for your child.
You could try co-parenting
Now before you start uttering the phrase, “In a perfect world…” I urge you to read this post in it’s entirety and consider the possibility that this is a way forward for both you and your former partner to provide the best possible upbringing and care for your child(ren). Being able to come together with a mature and responsible approach will teach your child that relationships come in many forms, your child can grow knowing both parents love them unconditionally.
Co-parenting is when two parents who are no longer in a relationship mutually share the responsibly of raising a child or children. This usually happens when there is a marriage break down, a separation or divorce. The parents will usually work in partnership to bring up their child(ren) with equal responsibilities. The child(ren) will also have the right to maintain an equal relationship with both parents, without obstruction from either parent. This has been the success of many parents and in order to be very successful, the parents come together to ensure their child(ren)have a stable environment, good education and an all round stable routine. They usually maintain the same standards in discipline as well as rewards and treats.
Communication is the Trigger
For parents who do not live together, it is important to cooperate with each other for the benefit of the children. Children adjust more easily to crisis and loss if their parents work together to develop healthy ways of communicating, resolving problems, and reducing conflict.
Resentment can build up between parents who are not communicating; children feel the tension and can begin to play each parent off against each other, with comments such as … ‘Mom lets me do that’ and ‘Dad said I can,’ which then creates further tension between parents. Exhibiting to your child(ren) you are both still there equally and communicate well with each other adds to the foundation of a stable and healthy future or your child(ren).
Co-parenting is hard but it increases the chance for your child(ren) to have a much happier and secure life. Divorce and separation doesn’t have to be painful experience for your child and that accountability is in your hands. It is important for parents to remember that formation of a positive parent-child relationship is a lifelong process. The key to a successful parent-child relationship is the quality of time, rather than the quantity of time, spent together.
Here’s 12 Practical Tips for Successful Co-Parenting.
1. Establish a Workable Means of Communication
Parents can help their children by establishing a workable means of communicating with each other about their children. At first, some parents may find it difficult to separate their feelings about the relationship or the other parent from their need to give and receive information about the children. Parents can overcome this problem by communicating with each other about their children in a “business-like” manner. This may include agreeing about the time, place, and manner of their communication. It may also include establishing a list of topics and sticking to it.
Parents who are unable to talk to each other because of ongoing conflict, hostility, or issues of domestic violence, may find it easier to communicate by putting the information in writing or by communicating through a mutually-agreed upon adult. Except in cases where there is an Order For Protection or other court order prohibiting contact, parents should keep each other or a mutually agreed-upon third person advised of their home and work addresses and telephone numbers. In cases where there is an Order for Protection or other court order prohibiting contact, the parent must follow the order or ask the court to modify the order to permit communication regarding the children.
2. Resolve Conflict Quickly
Parents can help their children by cooperating with each other and by quickly resolving their conflict. Children whose parents are involved in ongoing conflict over parenting time, child support, or other issues may experience anger, anxiety, depression, or developmental delays. Parents may resolve conflict in a variety of ways, including consulting family members, religious leaders, mediators, parenting time expeditors, county child support officers, attorneys, or others. Parents may also wish to seek help for their children by consulting a child psychologist or by seeking services from the local social service agency. Court administrators maintain lists of local mediators and parenting time expeditors. The local association of attorneys maintains a list of attorneys.
3. Separate Parenting Time and Child Support
Parents can help their children by not withholding child support or parenting time. Children generally fare best when they have the emotional and financial support and ongoing involvement of both parents. A parent does not have a right to withhold parenting time or child support because of the other parent’s failure to comply with court-ordered parenting time or support. In other words:
• The custodial parent cannot withhold parenting time if the noncustodial parent fails to provide child support.
• The noncustodial parent cannot withhold child support if the custodial parent fails to allow parenting time.
Rather than withholding parenting time or support, there are more productive, effective and, if need be, legal ways for parents to resolve support and parenting time issues. Parents experiencing conflict over parenting time or child support may wish to consult a mediator, attorney, parenting time expeditor, or county child support office.
4. Respect Parent-Child Relationships
Parents can help their children by respecting and supporting each child’s relationship with the other parent. Unless agreed upon by both parents, parents should not plan activities for children that conflict with the other parent’s scheduled time with the children. The time a parent is scheduled to spend with the children belongs to that parent and the children. The other parent should not interfere with this time. Parents can also help their children by adjusting the schedule to permit their children to participate in reasonable extracurricular activities.
5. Facilitate Transition from One Parent to the Other
Parents can help their children transition from one home to the other by understanding their children’s anxieties and by assuring them that both parents will continue to love them and to be involved in their lives. Children commonly experience separation anxiety. This does not necessarily mean that the child has a poor relationship with either parent. For the child, it may be just like the divorce or separation is happening all over again.
Children under age five generally do not understand the concept of time, such as hours, days, or weekends. Parents of young children can help them understand when the child will spend time with each parent by creating a calendar with different colors for each parent.
6. Encourage Telephone and Other Contact
Parents can help their children by calling and writing to them and by reasonably encouraging and assisting them to call and write to the other parent. Children do best when they are able to maintain contact with both parents. While parenting time is one way to maintain that contact, other ways include telephone calls, letters, e-mail, and other forms of communication.
Telephone calls between parent and child should be permitted at reasonable hours and at the expense of the calling parent. Unless restricted by court order, parents have a right to send cards, letters, packages, e-mail, audiotapes, and videocassettes to their children. Children have the same right to send items to their parents. Parents should not interfere with these rights.
7. Establish Similar Household Routines
Parents can help their children by following similar routines for mealtime, bedtime, and some work time. Parents can also help their children by accepting that they have limited control over what happens in the other parent’s home and by respecting the authority of the other parent.
From a very young age, children learn that their parents have different parenting styles. Children can adjust to some differences in routines between their parents’ homes. Developmentally, though, children cope better when there is general consistency between their parents’ homes because it helps them have a sense of order.
8. Provide Child’s Belongings
Parents can help their children transition between their parents’ homes by sending along the children’s important belongings, such as clothing, medicine, and equipment. Parents can also help their children by sending along personal objects, such as blankets, stuffed animals, photos, or memorabilia of the other parent.
9. Contact with Grandparents and Other Extended Family
Parents can help their children maintain important family ties by arranging for the children to visit their father’s family when they are with their father, and by arranging for the children to visit their mother’s family when they are with their mother. Children who have had loving relationships with their grandparents and other extended family members need to maintain those ties, otherwise they may experience a sense of loss.
10. Facilitate Temporary Schedule Adjustments
Parents can help their children by giving as much advance notice as possible when requesting a temporary adjustment to the parenting time schedule. Family emergencies, illness of a parent or child, or special events of a parent or child may require temporary adjustment to the parenting time schedule. Parents can help their children by scheduling an alternate parenting time to take place as soon as possible.
11. Accommodate Vacation Plans
Parents can help their children by understanding that it is important for each parent to vacation with their children. Parents can help their children by scheduling their vacation times so that they do not interfere with the other parent’s time with the children or with the children’s schedules. Vacation, whether during school breaks or during the summer, can be a time for parents and children to expand their relationship. Vacation is also important because it gives the other parent time off from the demands of parenting. Vacation time takes precedence over regular parenting time unless a court order or an agreement of the parents provides otherwise.
12. Establish a Routine for Picking Up and Dropping Off Child
Parents can help their children by agreeing on who will pick up and drop of the children and where this will take place. Parents can also help their children by having the children ready and by being on time. When picking up and dropping off children, it is important to avoid communication that may lead to conflict. Neither parent should enter the home of the other parent without permission. Parents should take all necessary safety precautions when transporting, picking up, and dropping off their children.
Co-parenting Works When Your Children are Put First
At its most basic, co-parenting is putting the needs and well-being of your children before everything… a priority for sure. It’s working honestly and openly with the other parent to meet those needs and raise happy and healthy children. This means giving your children the stability they deserve while realizing that life isn’t perfect. It will require cooperation and flexibility from all parties involved. Co-parenting is chasing the desire to raise children who can look back with a fondness and appreciation for the effort their parents expended for their best life. Integrous Resolution Services is humbled and honored to help families do just that.