You and your child’s other parent may no longer live together or have an intimate relationship. But having a child together means you will always have some kind of relationship with each other. You are co-parents. Your attitude and actions will determine whether the experience will be positive or negative.
Children do best when they have healthy, ongoing relationships with both parents. Successful co-parenting is about teamwork. It’s when you put your child’s needs first and work together to raise him or her cooperatively, even though you aren’t living together as a family.
Here are some suggestions from Project LAUNCH Georgia that can help keep your co-parenting relationship positive.
Put your child’s interests first
Keeping your child’s best interests in mind is the basis for a successful co-parenting relationship. Your child will benefit from and has the right to spend time with both parents. Minimize the stress of your new family situation by keeping complaints or negative thoughts about the other parent to your self. Respect each other’s parenting style and household rules. Don’t compete for your child’s loyalty. He or she has enough love for both.
Work together as a team
Establish a united front. Make a plan to share parenting duties and responsibilities, maintain stable routines for your child and settle disagreements in constructive ways. When it comes to day-to-day decision making, make an effort not to contradict each other. Children quickly learn which parent to go to for the answer they want. To avoid problems, consider checking with each other before giving your child permission to do certain things, such as going to parties or special events.
Keep the lines of communication open
Be polite to each other, especially when you are with your child. Talk to each other directly. Never use your child or others as messengers. Check in with your child’s other parent regularly. If talking face-to-face or on the phone is difficult, consider other options. For example, you may be able to e-mail or text each other, or write letters.
It’s normal for co-parents to disagree from time to time. And it’s common for people who feel angry, sad or hurt to lash out at others in an attempt to defend themselves. But this usually only makes things worse. If you start to feel upset when talking with your co-parent, try taking a few deep breaths to calm down. If that doesn’t help, take a break. Come back to the conversation at another time. Look for common ground, and remember that your goal is to reach a compromise that/s best for your child. If you need help, seek mediation.
You can co-parent successfully. It takes work and commitment, but the results you’ll see in your child are worth it!