Co-Parenting Strategies

on Dec 6, 2017 in Divorce

Most families going through divorce manage to maintain some contact through the children.  Whether you made the decision to divorce as a team, or one person unilaterally made the decision to divorce, you will always have children in common.  Different couples find different ways to co-parent the children.  Without question, co-parenting is better for the children, as opposed to two parents both unilaterally parenting children in common with no communication between the adults.  Obviously, there are some exceptions to this approach, including where there is a history of physical or sexual abuse by one parent.  However, in most situations, each parent will have at least some contact with the children.  In those situations, co-parenting strategies can be applied.

There is no single “right way” to co-parent.  However, co-parenting is often a novel concept to people new to divorce.  Below are several co-parenting strategies you can apply in some way or another.

Co-Parenting Strategies: Prioritize Communication

Now that you are separated or divorced, make an effort to communicate about the children with the other parent.  In this day and age, your options extend well beyond the traditional phone call.  You can email, text, or video conference.  While phone calls and video conference can avoid some confusion associated with tone, and allow for sorting out details in a more timely manner, other forms of communication can work as well.  Make sure your children know you and their other parent are communicating regularly about parenting concerns.   Whether you are celebrating a good report card, or dealing with truancy issues, your children need to know you are both committed to raising them as co-parents.

Co-Parenting Strategies: Celebrate Family

If there is a family event, as co-parents, make the commitment to include the children.  Family reunions, birthdays, and other family celebrations may or may not coincide with your well thought out parenting time plan.  Be flexible when it comes to family celebrations.   When possible, make allowances so the children are included in extended family events, regardless of who is scheduled to be parenting on the day of the event.

Co-Parenting Strategies: Attend Events Together

Whether your child is the star pitcher on the softball team or has a bit part in the school play, coordinate with your child’s other parent to attend the event together.  You do not have to travel to and from the event in the same car.  Just make sure you both attend.  If possible, sit together.  If hurts and anger are still too fresh, at least sit in the same general area.  Remember, you are attending this event in support of your child.  When children have the love and support of both parents, they thrive.  Keep your attention focused on the children.  This is not the time to discuss late alimony payments, or whether your child should attend overnight camp.  Coordinated co-parenting at these school events have significant meaning to your child – both now and well into the future.

Co-Parenting Strategies: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Co-parenting reflects your commitment to raise your little people with another person.  It does not reflect a commitment to the other person’s other choices.  You may find the same things that annoyed you when you were married still annoy you.  Whether it is her tendency to arrive at events 10 minutes late, or his insistence on dressing like a slob during even the most somber of occasions, make the effort to keep the focus on the children.  If the annoyance registers, take a deep breath and remind yourself you are no longer a spouse.  His or her choices have little to do with you.  Don’t focus your attention on things you cannot change and do not matter.

Co-Parenting Strategies: Mind Your Words

Under no circumstances should you speak poorly of your children’s other parent to them.  This will do nothing to advance a co-parenting relationship.  Instead, this fosters confusion, fear, anger, and resentment in children – and not just at the other parent.  Your relationship frustrations with your ex-spouse are none of your children’s business.   Consider this: would you discuss your financial decisions with your children?  Your concerns about your sex life?  Your worries about whether your latest project at work met the mark?  Children are not little adults.  Further, your children have a relationship with their other parent that is separate from you.  Feel free to express your frustrations about your ex to your friends and your therapist.  With your children, however, be respectful.

Co-Parenting Strategies: Share Updates

The co-parenting bond can be as strong as you choose to make it.  Consider setting up a private family group on the web, where you can share life events with the other parent.  Whether you wish to share photos of your vacation, a family event the other parent didn’t attend, or another milestone, having a central location where your children know both their parents can relive important moments can be important.  This idea also creates an ongoing family scrapbook for your children.

If You Are Considering Co-Parenting

If you are considering co-parenting, adopting some or all of these suggestions cements your commitment, to your children and to your ex, to raise your children together.  Ideally, you and your children have many, many years together to look forward to.  By redefining your parenting roles in a manner that continues to include each other when it comes to your children, you create a path forward.  This path will have twists and turns, but ultimately makes everything easier – including life events such as graduation, weddings, and the birth of the next generation.

If You are Considering Divorce

If you are considering divorce, let the attorneys at Fait & DiLima help you calm the storm.  We work hard to return you to what matters most, your life, your work, and your family.  Contact us for a consultation.