Co parenting tips

What exactly is co parenting?

Co parenting is having both parents, barring any extreme incidents like domestic violence, playing an active and crucial role in the child’s life. Although it is obviously a much different experience than growing up in a family setting where both parents live in the same house, cooperative co parenting can help create a healthy environment for development of your child(ren). Successful co parenting also demands mutual respect from each parent, which ensures the child’s needs are taken care of, allowing them to grow up with positive relationships with both parents, despite the divorce between them. Scholarly research even suggests that, because both parents contribute uniquely to a child’s development, positive co parenting plays a crucial role in the health and well being of the child, often impacting the chance of familial related depression, that can have lifetime effects. Although working with your ex partner sounds like a daunting task, one must always remember that the better you work with your ex spouse, the better the environment your children will be raised in.

How to make co parenting work

It is important to recognize that there is no single “map” or solution to devising a successful coparenting arrangement. Although it will be tough, the best way to try and make co parenting work is to no longer view your ex as a previous partner, but instead as a co parenting partner. The intimate relationship between the two parents may be over, but for the sake of the children, the familial relationship should not be lost as well. Ultimately, in order to be successful at co parenting the parents must put the needs of the child above their own. Also, an early commitment to successful co parenting may effect the nature of the legal agreement. However, ongoing success at co parenting is not largely dictated by that legal agreement.

Why parents should co parent after a divorce

The benefits of co parenting are innumerable to the development of one’s child, but some specific benefits include a quicker and easier transition for the child into their new lifestyle. Going through the divorce process can be very taxing on the child, and with both parents working together, the child will hopefully be able to adjust to their new situation a little bit easier. Another benefit to co parenting is setting an example for your child. As the child ages, he or she will see the effort put forth by the parents and ideally retain and replicate that dedication in their future relationships. Lastly, a benefit to co parenting can be found in the consistency in the child’s life. Despite rotating between houses, or juggling multiple homes however the parents seem most beneficial for the child(ren), if the parents are able to cooperate together and talk through the situations at their respective houses, the child can be held to similar standards at each house. This results in a consistent environment for the child, which deters relationships being favored via bribing or being the “fun” parent.

(Co parenting tip number 1)

Put your child’s best interest above your own feelings

In order to be successful in co parenting, both parents must set aside any hurtful feelings they have towards their ex partner, and solely focus on the interests of the children. Those feelings which stem from divorce are completely natural and it may seem impossible to put them aside, but in order to advance in your co parenting relationship it has to be done. Another crucial step in achieving this goal is never addressing these feelings to the children. It’s not their place to be caught in the middle of the parents personal drama, and it severely detracts from the efforts of co parenting in general. One way to remember this is that those feelings towards your ex might not ever change or dissipate, but they are never the concern of the child. The child didn’t play any role in the divorce and he/she shouldn’t be involved in the personal drama between parents. Being able to separate the feelings surrounding the divorce with the effort it takes to successfully co parent, is one of the hardest initial steps to take.

(Co parenting tip number 2)

As with most things in life, communication is key.

In order to be successful in co parenting, each parent needs to be able to effectively communicate to the other, without it turning into an extension of conflict of the divorce. The time for arguing and yelling at each other has passed, and now all time spent communicating with one another should be done in a humble and efficient way. As stated above, just because your marriage is over doesn’t mean your family is, and being able to effectively communicate with your ex is one huge step in ensuring it stays that way. Even if you aren’t meeting your ex face to face, email, texts, and phone calls are all valuable forms of communication that should remain conflict free. Here are a few methods which might help you communicate effectively with your ex after a divorce: view the relationship no longer as an intimate one, but now as a business relationship. Use all of the professionalism and respect which is demanded during a meeting with you and your boss or colleague, and transfer that to your meetings with your ex. The more respect you show him/her, the more likely they will return the favor. Do not be the only one setting plans, dates, or times. Make sure you are listening to your ex, and even if you don’t agree with him or her on a certain aspect of how the child should be raised, it’s important you at least listen to what your ex is trying to communicate.

(Co parenting tip number 3)

Teamwork makes the dream work

Acknowledging that you will be in contact with your ex for a very long time after the divorce, and most likely seeing them a frequent amount of times within this context is one of the first steps in creating a stable environment for your child. In order to ensure the child is being held to a similar standard at each house, the parents must work as a team and communicate to each other the wide range of obstacles which they run in to. The child will now thrown into a lifestyle very different from the one they have always known, but the parents can still create an environment where even if the rules aren’t exactly the same, the child won’t be drastically shifting between two different lifestyles depending on who they are with at any particular time. By creating similar rules to be followed and disciplinary acts in case those rules aren’t followed, the child will have a better sense of structure surrounding his/her home life. Next, part of working as a team means that major decisions concerning the child should be done together. However the parents decide to maintain the child’s health care, school system, or financial stability is up to them, but it is extremely important that these topics are handled and talked through together by both parents. Lastly, obviously parents will come to some disagreements or roadblocks through out the co parenting experience, and that is completely normal. What is important is how parents react once they get here. Remember that the more respect you show your ex, the more likely it is they will reciprocate that back to you, and don’t forget that simple manners in these types of engagements could change the outcome of the argument. Lastly, when at these unavoidable conflicts try to compromise as much as possible without sacrificing the well being of your child. Lastly, if you and your ex are unable to reach a compromise or just continue to butt heads in general, there are many options available to perhaps fix the situation like a joint counselor.

(Co parenting tip number 4)

Moving between houses should be seamless

The experience of the child is now dramatically different than what they are used to, and fostering an environment where they feel safe moving from one parent to the next is very important. Each time the child begins their time with one parent, they are leaving their time with the other. The child should never feel scared or threatened to go from one home to the next, but instead it should be an easy and unconscious transition. A few things to keep in mind during this time of changeover: remember to inform your child of the dates and times they will be heading over to the other parents house. It’s important that the child is just as knowledgable of the plan as the parents are. Also, avoid picking up your kid/s at your ex partner’s house and instead opt for the child to always be dropped off at their destination. This ensures that one parent doesn’t interrupt those last special moments between the child and other parent. Once your child returns home there are still special acts which can be done to ensure the easiest transition. Offer the child their own time or space in order to get readjusted. In order to avoid several trips back to your ex spouse’s house, double up on the essentials which you know your kid will always need. Also, offer a consistent routine to the child when they come back, maybe a tv show or a favorite meal. Knowing what to expect during these times of the unknown can help the child adjust to each new scene a little bit easier. Above all, know this is a challenging time for your children, and let them know you are there for them every step of the way.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of H. William Edgar are dedicated to the practice of Family law and juvenile dependency matters. We have offices in Riverside, Temecula, Anaheim and Palm Desert. Committed to helping you get the results that your family deserves. Contact 951-684-6885 or