From House to House
From House to House

Co-parenting describes a parental relationship whereby parents raise their children together but apart. Effective co-parenting requires coordinated efforts between parents, good organizational skills, and effective time management. Finding the right parenting schedule might require experimentation, and it is necessary to be flexible until things can be figured out.

The fact is, most co-parenting situations are not tricky or complicated but will require effort. Parents need not be best friends to co-parent, but parents must respect each other and avoid unnecessary parental conflicts.

Helping Children Adjust to Family Transitions

Establish a parenting schedule before parting ways. Color code the parenting schedule and place it on the refrigerator of both homes at their children’s eye level. This will help children know when they will see each parent.

A well-structured communication plan can be as simple as setting a specific day and time for a weekly 15-minute phone call. The parent on duty should initiate the call to avoid confusion. Sharing a three-ring binder with pockets can be a practical way to exchange important notices like school conferences, appointments, and report cards. This notebook can also serve as a platform to share helpful information, such as illness, medication times, and dosages, as well as fun things the children did or said during their time away. Such a communication plan equips parents with the tools for seamless co-parenting, ensuring that communication is productive without being intrusive.

Understanding these emotional aspects of co-parenting can help parents empathize with their children’s feelings and adjust their co-parenting approach. 

  • Children deeply feel the absence of the parent they are not with, and when children understand the parenting schedule, it eases their anxiety.
  • Following through with the parenting schedule is crucial because what a schedule is to parents is a promise to their children.

Once parents agree on the schedule, parents can explain it to their children together if they can do so in a friendly way. This provides a united approach that gives children a positive message that makes the transition less daunting for their children.

What should parents consider when deciding on a parenting schedule?

Parents must be realistic about their availability to provide children’s care. A schedule that does not work well will create frustration and parental conflict.

Begin by examining work schedules and using color coding to see what weekends and weekdays are available for overnight parenting. Consider your children’s needs, the distance between parental residences and children’s schools, and childcare availability and costs. Consider exchanging children from school or their daycare to make parenting exchanges easier. If parents are joint parenting, consider busing options.

Consider using a two-two, five-five equal parenting schedule instead of a weekly exchange for joint parenting. Weekly parenting schedules are difficult to adjust for holidays or vacations and are too long between exchanges. If parents are considering parenting time that is less than joint, try extended weekends and two overnights on the off week. Sole physical parenting accommodates up to a 60/40% split between parents, or approximately 12 monthly overnights. 

The AARC Principle

Parents might want to consider how to improve the way they think about each other as parents. You are no longer a couple, but you will be parents forever. AARC is an acronym that might be helpful to consider. 

ACCEPT that each other has the right to parent. Respect each other’s right to have a different opinion. Please treat each other’s needs as valuable as one’s own. Accept one another’s right to enjoy a parental relationship with your children and avoid competing over their affection.

APPRECIATE the love each other has for your children and encourage each other to be a part of your children’s lives. Neither parent is replaceable in the eyes of your children. Appreciate what you each do for your children and give credit where it is due.

RESPECT each other in all communications. Hurtful words are difficult to retract, and they cannot be taken back once said. Words have the power to heal or the power to destroy, and it is crucial to avoid hurtful words from falling on the ears of your children. Communicating with respect makes parenting apart will be much easier and more pleasant for everyone.

COMMUNICATE more than the basics about your children. Share the fun things children said or did while away for parenting time. Sharing pictures of your children is not expected, but it will be appreciated.

AARC builds Excellence in Co-parenting and a safe bridge for children to cross from House to House. It also preserves the value of family for your children’s future because one day, you will share grandchildren.

Impact Parent Education Program Copyright
Registration No. TXu 2-097-47

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