Parenting is challenging and those issues can become even more difficult after separation or divorce. Good co-parenting relationships positively impacts children. Here are some strategies we found to be effective.
Strategy 1: Take advantage of technology
Communication is key to co-parenting. Using app, like “Our Family Wizard” gives both parents access to a calendar and email for discussing related only to the children. With the app you can schedule parenting time and share information right on your phone or computer. It allows for planning the school calendar, holidays, pick up and drop off, doctors’ appointments, without confusion and emotion and ensures both parents have access to the information.
Strategy 2: Be willing to give up a little of your time
An unexpected “text” or FaceTime call from your child can make your day. Encourage your kids to communicate with the other parent, even when they are with you. Remind them to share their news (good or bad) with the other parent. Your children will see that you respect the other parent and that will reflect positively on you. It only takes a minute, but it can be worth much more.
Strategy 3: Be “mindful” about your message
When possible be positive. If you want to share something positive with the other parent you can mention it to your child, so they can see healthy communication. For example, you could say “I am so glad to tell Mom about your decision to participate in the science fair.” You should share that news with the other parent.
Strategy 4: Do not use the child as a messenger
A child may inadvertently see an angry email or text message or overhear a heated conversation between their parents. That is something you should try to avoid. However, that is not a malicious or purposeful way to share “adult information” with the other parent through your child. Never use the children as messengers for any divorce related issues like alimony, child support or changes to the custody schedule.
Strategy 5: Plan for your child’s future together
If you agreed during the marriage that you would contribute toe college or plan for a wedding that should not be impacted by your divorce. Your financial situation may have changed so you may want to talk to the other parent about how these goals may be effected.
Strategy 6: Try not to keep secrets
Distrust may have been an issue in your marriage, but it does not have to be after you are separated. You should be on the path to be the best your best independent self. If you are dating, you can tell the other parent and try to discuss how and when you will introduce new partners to your children. If you got a new job or are thinking about moving, be open and honest about these situations so that you can avoid resentment or misunderstanding. This will also give you the chance to prepare for the questions or emotional reactions that your child may have about meeting your new partner.
Strategy 7: Establish boundaries
Parents should agree on boundaries for the children and send a unified message. Topics like cell phone use, curfews, homework, driving and school attendance should be consistent in both homes. Creating a plan for the major (and minor) issues and put it in writing. Setting boundaries will reduce stress and increase respect the parents show one another. Discipline should be consistent to be effective. Try not to undermine the other parent and if you disagree have the discussion outside of the child’s presence.
Strategy 8: Enjoy your time alone
Finding a way to enjoy your time when the kids are away is not only important for you, it is also important for your kids. Many children worry about whether their parent will be lonely when they leave. When your kids are getting ready to transition to the other parent house, let them know that you will miss them, but you also have a few fun things planned for yourself while they are gone. This reassures the child that you won’t be lonely, but you will miss them.
Strategy 9: Remember this is an emotional learning experience for everyone
This is new for you and a major adjustment for your children. It may find it useful to talk to a professional. Therapist and co-parent counselors are an excellent source for information and tools to improve your co-parenting.