The irony is pretty thick here. The relationship didn’t work. Maybe you could never communicate well. You have children and you are now co-parenting after a divorce. The two things that make co-parenting a success are good communication and cooperation. So now you must figure out how to communicate and cooperate with the person you divorced, for the sake of raising happy, healthy children. And that really is the key…making it about the kids, rather than about your relationship anymore.
Whether or not you like your ex, you will be making countless decisions with them regarding your children over the years. Luckily, there are some keys to making co-parenting a success. Consistency, courtesy and teamwork with help all of the decision making fall into place in a way that is healthy and beneficial for your child. My tips for Co-parenting best practices are the following.
- Schedule – Of course the schedules may be different between households, but things like a bedtime routine, or regular mealtime can help keep things similar.
- Rules – these will always vary from house to house, but if you and your ex can agree on a few that stay consistent between you two, this will go a long way in establishing both of your credibility with your child. Things like homework rules, off-limits activities or curfew are good things to try and keep consistent.
- Discipline – its no secret that every parent has their own style of discipline, but if you can help each other carry out a consequence when necessary or continue a similar pattern, that is helpful.
- Respect can go a long way – this is a bit of a lost art in the world today it seems. Manners are important. Letting your ex know about things before they come up, being flexible with the schedule, or being considerate of opinions are all things that make good common sense when dealing with anyone.
- Keep talking – don’t shut down when you get upset or frustrated. If there are disagreements, keep trying to talk through them or get the help of a third party. Never use your children as a sounding board or put them in the middle.
- Pick your battles – is it a medical procedure you are discussing, or the difference between 30 minutes at bedtime? Make sure you are putting your energy into necessary issues.
- Compromise – you will have to give and take a little, its as simple as that. Its a two way street, so make sure to stay balanced.
- Help anticipate change – get them ready to switch houses when needed, make it a routine.
- Keep things at both houses – make it easier on the child so they don’t have to always pack everything up by having two sets of most things.
- Drop off – rather than pick up the child on “switch day”. You don’t want it to feel like you are taking the child from the other parent.