How to Co-Parent: The Dos and Don’ts

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“Wait. You mean, I have to remain civil with my ex-spouse?” Short answer: Yes.

Whether you are separated or divorced parents, you should stay committed to putting your children first.

Okay, okay. So, you may have recently made your relationship with your former significant other a priority. There is no shame in that. You were striving to mend your broken relationship . . . for your sake AND the sake of your children.

It is that time again to say, “I do.” But, you are saying, “I do” . . . to your kids.

You are probably saying to yourself, “This is impossible!” If the main objective is your children, anything is possible. As co-parents, you must choose to put aside your personal differences to develop and implement a parenting plan that you both feel is in the best interests of your children’s development.

As you start this journey as co-parents, keep in mind the following dos and don’ts:

Put your children first.

I cannot stress this enough. Your main objective is your children and their continued growth regardless of your relationship status.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Seems simple enough, right? It is no secret that relationships fail due to the lack of communication between partners. Unfortunately, it is more common than you think. Your children need you now more than ever. Speak up. Remember, your ex-partner is not a mind reader, unless he/she tells you otherwise . . .

Create a parenting plan you both agree on.

As co-parents, as a team, work on creating a game plan for today and the future. Memorializing holiday schedules, weekly parenting time, school breaks, etc. in writing will help both of you, as parents, stay on course as you raise your children together. If you need guidance, do not hesitate to seek counsel as it is the attorney’s job to assist with drafting an agreement suitable for you and your children.

Remain open-minded and flexible.

As you navigate through the journey of co-parenting, remain open-minded to the preferences and desires of your respective co-parent, as well as your children who are of the appropriate age. Whether it is memorialized in writing or not, be flexible with your agreed upon parenting plan. If one parent needs to change his/her schedule with the children, pick up or drop off time(s), holidays, etc., consider the difficulty of doing so. Keep in mind that you may have a conflict down the road, and you will ask the same of your respective co-parent.

Focus on the future, not the past.

It is easier said than done, I know. Your past relationship with your ex-partner will always be a part of you. As a co-parent, make it a part of your daily routine to focus on your main objective, your children and their continued growth.

Keep your children out of adult matters.

Do not involve your children in adult matters. It is that simple. If you have a case currently pending in court, they do not need to know the details of it, and it should not be discussed in their presence. Let children be children . . . not the messenger.

Do not speak poorly of your ex-partner.

As co-parents, each parent should facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the children and the respective co-parent at all times. No matter how angry or frustrated you may be at times with your ex-partner, do not criticize, demean, disparage, or place him/her in negative light in the hopes of sabotaging the relationship the children have or continue to build with that parent.

If you take away one point, let it be this: Don’t give up.

Don’t give up on your co-parent. As we all know, life has its obstacles. As new parents, you navigated through uncharted waters on a daily basis. It may take time to find your rhythm and that’s okay. Just know your children are cheering you on from the sidelines.

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