Here are some great basic steps to follow as a coParent. Remember, the goal is to keep it child-centric!

  • Strive to model cordial, respectful communication about the other parent, both verbally and nonverbally.
  • Speak positively about the other parent’s traits, skills, or interests to your child. Remember, for the first years of your child’s life he/she heard others make admiring comments like, “That’s JUST LIKE your Dad… You smile JUST LIKE your Mom!” Our children want to be like us in important ways, and we want them to continue to be proud of both of us as they grow up to become who they are.
  • Give your children direct messages about enjoying a great relationship with the other parent; repeat it often.
  • Help your children with preparing for the other parent’s birthday, Mother’s/Father’s Day, and other special holidays.
  • Facilitate and maintain the child’s healthy relationships with family members on both sides of the family.
  • Accept your children’s relationship with your ex’s new partner (when that time comes), despite your own feelings.
  • Reassure children in words and actions that you are okay when they are not with you. Children don’t need to worry about their other parent being lonely, or sad, or in some way “not OK” by being alone.

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Karen Bonnell’s book, THE CO-PARENTS’ HANDBOOK.  For more information on Karen or her book, visit

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About Karen Bonnell

Karen has over 25 years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families facing transition, loss, stress and change. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Karen has been Board certified and licensed as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner since 1982. She served on the faculty of University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University & Seattle Pacific University before beginning full-time private practice in 1984. She continues to be a provider of Professional Continuing Education to both health care and legal professionals.

Karen served on the Board of King County Collaborative Law and Collaborative Professionals of Washington. She is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Academy of Professional Family Mediators.

Her work is found through Unhooked Books: