We know co-parenting is not an exact science, most days you feel as if you are wadding in murky water between work responsibilities, family logistics and the surprises co-parenting can throw at you. That said, it takes a high level of flexibility and grace to manage it all. I can say this comfortably as I stare at my three handsome boys driving me a little crazy at the office while I write this.
Understanding that co-parenting is an open promise to your children to create a home, a lifestyle, and environment where they can pursue a healthy relationship with both parents -here are some things to build into habit;
1. Commit to open communication with your co-parent.
There are plenty of logistics to manage in raising young kids. Keeping it business friendly, kid-focused and on-point is the name of the game. Understanding that plenty of dialogue will be focused on family logistics so commit to ‘check-ins’ with your co-parent so they are abreast on the basic beats of what is going on in your life. This may seem somewhat odd but you don’t want the information to come from the kids, that’s not their business and they should never be a messenger.
2. Consistent and transparent on setting rules.
We realize you may have different rules and parenting styles, perhaps polar opposite, but providing a level of transparency keeps both co-parents running a tight ship and provides a consistent family experience across two homes. Be aware of your co-parenting blind spots. The most obvious one is the actual gap between your life, habits, home, expectations, and life with the children is, in fact, different than you co-parent. As your children get older they will attempt to subvert that. Mind the gap.
3. Always be the optimist
Knowing the co-parenting road is filled with potholes, it is your job to teach tenacity and grit by highlighting the positive. This may be a character stretch for some but if no one has told you lately, being a good parent is about being the best version of you. To bring this habit to the highest level is to drop some compliments about your ex within ear reach of your children no matter how big or small (ex. ‘Your mother was always good at packing an amazing lunch.’). Speaking positively about your ex teaches children that despite your differences, you can still appreciate positive things about them.
4. Have Mental Agility to co-parenting challenges
We all may struggle with this one. Don’t assume the mental/emotional/logistical gymnastics your co-parent is pushing you for is to drive you crazy. Run it all through the filter of, “what is best for the health and wellbeing of the kid(s)?”
5. Keep negativity away from the kids
No smack talk about your ex in front of the kids. None. Don’t jump to conclusions or condemn your ex, especially in front (or within earshot) of the kids. And do not give into guilt. When guilt spills over into overindulgence which, unchecked, grooms self-centered children that lack empathy and believe in the need to get unrealistic entitlement from others.