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How Can I be a Better Co-parent?

‘Co-parent’ is not simply a title, it’s a verb. Leave yourself open to change and tweak as needed to bring your best co-parenting self to the table.
(3 min 42 sec read)

Dave Chartier
A single co-parenting dad, a freelance writer and former syndicated dad blogger with work published in USA Today, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

Perhaps you are just starting to restructure your life as a two home family and co-parenting is a new concept, or perhaps, you’ve been doing it for a while and are looking to ‘tune-up’ what you could be doing better. Regardless, here are some basic things you can do to improve the quality of your co-parenting experience for you, your co-parent and, most importantly, your kid.

One of the first things you can do is adjust the co-parenting filter you run everything through. Ask yourself, if the sum of the decisions you are making are to the benefit of you, your co-parent or your kid. Generally speaking, if you are doing it for the benefit of the kid chance are you’re doing great. If not, perhaps you should read on.

Just to be clear, we’ll highlight the benefits of healthy and balanced co-parenting essentially answering the question, “And, why am I putting myself through this co-parenting stuff again?”;

  • Feel secure. When confident of the love from both parents, kids adjust more quickly and easily to divorce, new living situations and have better self-esteem.
  • Benefit from consistency in a two home family. By adopting similar rules, discipline, and rewards between households, children know what to expect, and what’s expected of them.
  • Better problem solving and interpersonal skills. Children who see their co-parents to continue to work together are more likely to learn how to effectively and peacefully solve problems themselves.
  • Are mentally and emotionally healthier. Children exposed to conflict between co-parents are more likely to develop issues such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD.

With these points in mind, the big things to remember are striving for rhythm and harmony between the two homes. While this may not be altogether possible for a variety of reasons, these are the goals. With these tips, you can strive to remain calm, stay consistent, and resolve conflicts to make joint custody work and enable your kids to thrive.

Perfect Your Communication

This may be establishing a regular meeting for coffee or email at the beginning of the month to talk about tweaks in the schedule and upcoming events. Beyond logistics, you may need to bring your best ‘business-like’ tone to these meetings and strive for ‘win-win’ scenarios. What does this mean? As issues arise you may need to consider listening, keeping emotional responses to a minimum and leave yourself open to compromise. In some cases, ask yourself how this (situation) benefits your kid.

Next level, co-parenting communication skills include things like; asking them their opinion on things, apologizing and just ‘chilling out’ rather than escalating things. By asking their opinion on simple things, perhaps something you do not have a strong opinion on, you are rewriting the script on how you communicate. You may be turning a fresh page and moving toward a co-parent ‘team’ approach on how you can both be your best for the kids.

Perfect Your Actions

This means first and foremost, striving for forgiveness -forgive them, forgive yourself. Go to therapy, pray, meditate, -do what you need to do to get beyond the pain. This opens you up to a fresh page where you are keeping the health and wellbeing of your kids at the center of your actions and your decisions.

This means you take your co-parenting frustrations out in other healthy ways, like through therapy or kickboxing, or yoga or any number of things that are right for you, your life and your needs. The outcome is you aren’t unloading your frustrations and escalating matters with your co-parent and your child will not know about any conflict or friction between co-parents, and there is an established rhythm between the two households.

Perfect Your Team

This is an important one. We are well-aware most of life is a matter of perception. In this case, we mean allowing yourself to view your ex-husband/wife as a teammate. Your goal as a Team is to do your best to raise the children, as best as possible. You may have begun to figure this out, but the moving parts for this is a consistent co-parenting experience across both homes.

  1. Consistent schedules, rules, discipline and expectations.
  2. Decision making is consistent and shared across both homes
  3. Resolving issues.
  4. Perfecting kid transitions between homes

We realize ‘co-parent’ is not simply a title, it’s a verb. It is a process. Leave yourself open to change and tweak as needed to bring your best co-parenting self to the table.

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