Parenting can be stressful, even during the best of times. But co-parenting with your ex-spouse can feel especially daunting. After navigating the complexities of a separation or divorce, co-parenting presents its own challenges, especially in the face of complicated emotions.
Yet by focusing on what matters most — the children — you and your ex can create a co-parenting plan to provide your kids with stability, love and support in two homes.
Co-parenting plans are unique to your children’s needs
Every family is different, and your co-parenting plan should reflect that. You need to consider your children’s ages, mental and physical health, special interests and extra-curricular activities.
You and your co-parent should openly communicate so you both clearly understand what is going on in your kids’ daily lives. And even though it may be difficult, you must find ways to communicate without arguing or raising voices. At first, this may mean relaying everything by email or text until you can speak with each other respectfully and civilly.
Another strategy for successful co-parenting is to establish expectations, boundaries and routines. This is especially beneficial for children who live between two households. Establishing concrete rules regarding money, discipline, school work, etc., will provide structure and consistency and help prevent unnecessary conflicts and disagreements between the parents.
While having a routine is essential, it’s also important to remember that life doesn’t always go according to plan, and successful co-parenting requires flexibility. Work, school, special events and illnesses need co-parents to make adjustments.
Co-parenting takes a lot of effort, but understanding and commitment to the process can help reduce the confusion, resentment and pain that often come from divided households. With patience, flexibility, and clear expectations, you can create an environment where your children feel safe and supported by both parents throughout their upbringing.