Ten Suggestions for Effective Co-parenting
Effective Co-parenting

These ten tips might be helpful when making co-parenting decisions that affect their children. 

1. DECIDE ON THE RIGHT PARENTING SCHEDULE

The most critical decisions when parents split are custody and parenting time. It is not divorce or separation that devastates children but parental conflict and inefficient parenting time. Children must adjust to living in two houses instead of two, and parents must adapt to not seeing their children daily. This is hard, and the only way to get through it is to make decisions that ensure parental relationships thrive and are maintained.

Decide the parenting schedule before moving apart, and explain it to your children so they know when they will see each parent. Color code your work schedules on a paper calendar to visualize when parents are available to care for their children. When you decide on the schedule, color code a paper calendar and use it to help your children know when they will be with each parent. Tape a copy of the monthly schedule on the refrigerators of both houses at your children’s eye level.

2. KEEP EACH OTHER INFORMED

A parenting notebook can be a game-changer in making co-parenting smooth and seamless. These notebooks often come with pockets for notifications of activities, report cards, and medical information. They can be used to explain small children’s needs, medications, and napping needs or inform each other of a teen’s practice or school schedule. However, it’s crucial to keep the content civil and organized, avoiding hurtful comments or improper information that children might read. 

3. CONSIDER A WEEKLY 15-MINUTE TELEPHONE CALL TO COMMUNICATE BUSINESSLIKE INFORMATION

Regular and clear communication is the cornerstone of effective co-parenting. To avoid confusion, the on-duty parent should make a weekly 15-minute telephone call to communicate businesslike information. This routine call, agreed upon by both parents, can help prevent the most prevalent challenge in co-parenting-miscommunication. Numbers 2 and 3 in our list are non-intrusive and comprise an easy-to-follow communication plan.

4. COMMUNICATION WITH CHILDREN

Children can contact their parents as they wish with their cell phones. However, it is unfair to expect children to check in and unjust to the on-duty parent if parenting time is disrupted. Decide the proper times to call, and honor the privacy of parents and children. If it becomes problematic, talk about it. 

5. MAKE A LIST OF IMPORTANT CONTACTS

Keeping a list of doctors, hospitals, copies of medical cards, teachers, athletic coaches, and churches in the notebook is helpful. Keep a list of children’s friends, parent’s names, addresses, and phone numbers. This could be a crucial call list in an emergency, but it helps parents feel connected by knowing who their children hang out with. 

6. AGREE ON BASIC RULES AND EXPECTATIONS, DISCIPLINE, AND CURFEWS

To avoid confusing children, keep the rules the same after separating. Decide what rules and curfews are most important, such as homework and bedtimes. Keep rules easy to understand and discipline consistent. Consistency is critical for children after parents split, and children need to know what to expect. 

7. DISCUSS PARENTING ISSUES WHEN CHILDREN ARE NOT PRESENT

Discussing adult matters like child support and personal issues in the presence of children is unfair. Please avoid discussions during parenting exchanges because parents are often rushed and tense if exchanging children after work. If there is an issue to be discussed or a schedule change that affects parenting, ask if you can call later after the children are in bed. 

8. THINK OF CO-PARENTING AS A PARTNERSHIP

No one knows your children like their parents. Being Best Friends Forever is not realistic or necessary, but being Best Friends when it comes to your children is an admirable goal.

9. BE MINDFUL OF THE CHALLENGES OF RE- PARTNERING

Parents will develop new relationships, but exposing children to new partners too soon might be more than children can handle. Be mindful of your children’s feelings if interjecting new people into parenting time. If a new partner will be with children during your parenting time, notify the other parent in advance to avoid parental conflict. Re-partnering is another significant change in children’s lives; it takes both parents to help their children through it.

10. CONSIDER NEW HOLIDAY RITUALS

The first holidays can feel “off,” and children will feel the lack of the other parent’s presence. It might help to encourage children to share ideas for new things to do on holidays. It need not be complicated or expensive. It might be skating on a pond, baking something unique to bring to grandma’s house, a canoe trip, or going fishing. Children can be unbelievably creative. 

Parents should decide on holiday schedules in advance. Many parents decide on holiday exchanges a year ahead, but a month is fine unless travel arrangements exist. Some parents rotate every other holiday, alternating yearly to avoid parents receiving a major holiday repeatedly. Other parents split the holidays according to family rituals. Most families are willing to adjust holiday plans if there is ample advance notice. Some families celebrate holidays before or after the actual. The most important thing is that children receive time with extended family.

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