Children Parenting

How to successfully co-parent?

In the early stages of separation/divorce you might wish to limit the contacts with your ex to the bare minimum. But you soon realise that when children are involved, this is impossible. So, how to best go about it?

As you can imagine, there is no magic fits-all answer. Based on my experience, however, these basic principles might help you to rock the co-parenting challenge:

  • Predictability and regularity: This basically means that as far as spending time with your children is concerned you and your ex should stick to the schedule. Children need consistency and they soon understand which week/weekend they should be spending with which parent. In case of any changes to the schedule, clearly explain it to the them. There might be situations when children, especially if they are spending more time with one parent, are not very willing to leave with the other one at pick up time. These are quite difficult to manage, as they usually include strong emotions, such as crying, tantrums etc. My advice here is to do your best to reassure your children while standing firm on the need to spend the scheduled time with the other parent.
  • Respect: While you might still have some differences with your ex, never ever involve your children in these! Do not talk badly about the other parent to them or in front of them and do not use them as a bargaining chip. The disagreements that you have need to be resolved between adults, children should not be a part of it.
  • Communication: Do your best to maintain a good level of communication with your ex on the issues concerning children. Remember that no matter what, you will remain connected as parents, therefore channels of communication and mutual respect should always be there.
  • Discretion: Even if you are really interested in what happened when the children were with the other parent, do not embark on a questioning spree upon their return. Let them rather transition back to the home environment at their own pace and tell you what they find important once they are ready. Besides feeding your own curiosity, extensive questioning will not be beneficial to them in any way.

The truth is that co-parenting is never really easy and there are constant challenges (as they are with parenting;-). Mindful of the above, I slowly learned not to obsess over petty things that I did not necessarily agree with in my daughter’s father parenting style, such as too much TV, and be guided by the following to better evaluate a situation when in doubt: “What is in the child’s best interest?” In this way, I raise with him only the issues most important for the well-being of our daughter, such as those that have to do with her security and safety. That is, the red flags, which are non-negotiable.

And you, how do you navigate your co-parenting?