The‌ ‌Do’s‌ ‌and‌ ‌Don’ts‌ ‌of‌ ‌Co-Parenting‌

August 5, 2020

Co-parenting doesn’t always have to a be struggle! 

Yes, it poses a host of challenges. True, it won’t ever be perfect or what you most likely imagined as your parenting experience. 

Of course, when is parenting ever really idealistic? Never!  

What exactly is co-parenting? 

Co-parenting “is the experience of raising children as a single parent when separation or divorce occurs.” 

Unfortunately, when both parents aren’t on the same parenting page, it’s the kiddo who suffers the consequences, especially when it comes to increased risks of development problems. When co-parenting is approached in a positive way, when both parents are invested in setting up the appropriate groundwork, and when everyone agrees that the kids come first, then co-parenting can be very successful! 

So, where do you start? With the do’s and the don’ts! 

Don’t expose your kiddo to adult conflicts! It’s easier than you think to lay your grievances on your kid. This is detrimental for everyone involved. By making your kid play middleman, your promoting “feelings of helplessness and insecurity, causing children to question their own strengths and abilities.” 

Don’t be the “unbalanced” parent! You may want to be the “cool” or “fun” parent in the co-parenting relationship, but this will backfire for everyone. The only way co-parenting is healthy for your kiddo is when a united front is presented, one that upholds agreed upon boundaries, structure, and limitations.

Don’t overindulge to appease your guilt. Guilt is a powerful emotion and can lead to poor decisions, especially when it comes to co-parenting. With that said, “research shows that children can become self-centered, lack empathy, and believe in the need to get unrealistic entitlement from others” through overindulgence. 

Alright, what about the positive steps you can take as a co-parenting team? 

Do keep open communication with your Ex. Even if talking with your ex is the last thing on Earth you’d ever want to do, it’s important for a healthy co-parenting relationship. If it’s truly torturous, use none face-to-face methods such as email, texting, or voicemail. You can also use co-parenting websites — such as Talking Parents or Our Family Wizard — that create a shared space to upload schedules and communicate effectively. 

Structure should be identical in both households. This includes routines, rules, and boundaries! Your kiddo will gain the most out of co-parenting if both households follow the same daily routines and abide by the same rules, even if it’s something as simple as bed time and chores. This unity “creates a sense of security and predictability.”  

Take the high road. No matter what issues you’ve experienced, your Ex is still your kiddos other parent. Choose to speak positively about them! This can actually the relationship with your kiddo. Positive talk “teaches children that despite differences, you can still appreciate positive things about your Ex,” and it also “directs children to see the positive qualities in his or her parent too.”