When two parents decide to go their separate ways, a lot of emotions will be involved. Both the parents and the children will be affected in one way or another. For the sake of this article, I will focus on co-parenting when each parent has the best interest of their child/children as their primary focus.
Simply put, co-parenting is when the parents, who are no longer in a relationship together, or romantically involved, still cooperate together to share the responsibilities in raising their child/children (Gupta, 2023).
In the best of circumstances, every parent knows very well that juggling life in general whilst raising well-adjusted children, is mostly a struggle. A rewarding one, but still a struggle. Add separated parents to the mix, and matters become further complicated. So how do co-parents, who want nothing but the best for their children, make it work?
Tip 1: Put your children’s best interest in the fore-front.
The focus in this new family dynamic is to ensure that the children are feeling safe, secure and loved. This major change in their life will leave an effect on them, whether this effect is a positive or a negative one depends on how the co-parents handle their parenting. It is important to constantly remind the children that they have your unconditional love. Modeling to them a mutually respectful and cooperative relationship will help them to grow into well adjusted adults.
Tip 2: Put your egos to the side.
It is crucial to not involve the children in any of the adult disagreements, arguments or conflicts. Including them in such will only cause them confusion, internal conflict, fear and insecurity. Experiencing such stress is detrimental to the well-being and development of children. Witnessing parents, even co-parenting ones, in conflict on a regular basis can lead to future mental-health issues, stress and anxiety (Li, 2023).
Tip 3: Mind your language.
Watch what you say about the other parent in the presence of the children. The anger that you might be experiencing towards them is yours, and yours alone. The children are innocent and they should not be burdened by any negative comments about any of the parents. The children love both parents equally and hearing one parent speaking negatively about the other only increases any emotional pain that the child might be experiencing. Co-parenting includes showing respect towards each other, even when not both parents are present in the same space.
Tip 4: Agree on a structure and stick to it.
Consistency is key for children. When there is a fixed structure/schedule, which everyone respects and follows, children feel more secure and safe knowing what’s coming next. For example: Parent A takes Son A to football practice every Monday at 6pm. It is crucial that the same structure is maintained. Co-parenting is about both parents agreeing to share the responsibility of the children equally. Thus, each parent needs to commit and do their part ensuring that the children are less confused about how their week will be filled.
Tip 5: Seek support.
It is no secret that co-parenting brings with it certain challenges, despite all the best intentions and efforts. Do not shy away from seeking support from a professional, such as a social worker in order to be guided accordingly. A little support can go a long way, and knowing that you are not alone in this journey, will make it easier and more encouraging.
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Gupta, S. (2023). Co-Parenting: What it is and how to make it work. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/co-parenting-what-it-is-and-how-to-make-it-work-7197870#:~:text=Co%2Dparenting%20is%20an%20arrangement,or%20in%20a%20romantic%20relationship.
Li, P. (2023). What Happens When Parents Fighting In Front Of Kids. Parenting for Brain. https://www.parentingforbrain.com/parents-fighting/