You’ve read all the articles and taken the court-ordered parenting classes with your spouse before your divorce. You’ve both embraced the idea that your children’s needs take dominance over yours, and that you’re in this co-parenting game together.
Other than fully adopting the mantra that you need to “be consistent, respectful and kind” when you interact with your co-parent in all of your dealings about the kids, what else can you do to make co-parenting a little bit easier?
Tips for real-world co-parenting
Ideally, you and your co-parent will eventually find a certain harmony in your new relationship and put the past firmly behind you. Here are some suggestions that could help you get to that point faster:
- Get a family calendar. You may be living in different households, but you’re still connected as a family through your children. A joint calendar (something you can both access online may be best) can help you keep each other informed about important events like doctor’s visits, dance recitals and school plays.
- Be willing to negotiate and trade time. Yes, you have a custody schedule to fall back on, and you should generally follow it — but if your ex asks for “your” weekend to take the kids camping, be willing to trade the time. (You can also “bank” the time against some future date when you want a couple extra days with the kids, as long as your co-parent is willing to make that deal.)
- Keep your new relationships at a distance. You and your ex may both eventually move on, but be very slow to introduce new partners to the kids. Never draw comparisons between your new partner and your co-parent in front of your children, either.
- Keep the kids informed. Your kids will fare much better (and so will you) if they aren’t constantly mystified about what’s happening in their world. Give age-appropriate explanations and allow them to have some autonomy when there are options. For example, if your child wants to keep a special stuffed animal at your co-parent’s house, let them.
Your marriage may be over, but the business of parenting your children is not. An effective parenting plan can ultimately make the next few years much easier to manage.