The “Co-Parenting” issue – Yes it can be done. Despite the anger, disappointment, and sadness that we often experience during divorce, it is possible find a place of love and compassion within us for our children that will inspire us to get along with our children’s other parent. Afterall, it is not the children’s fault that we as parents could not make a marriage work. Why then should we expect our children to suffer the consequences of our feelings about our soon to be ex? Even when we think children are not listening and we try to hide the animosity we feel towards the other parent – children pick up on the fact that things “aren’t right”. Children can sense the things that we believe we are shielding them from. This requires us to put our hatreds aside and do what we can to minimize chaos in our children’s lives both during and after divorce. To do otherwise can affect our future relationships with our children
This issue opens with 5 Healthy Co-Parenting Boundaries, followed by What is Co-Parenting After Divorce and concludes with What Makes for Successful Co-Parenting After Divorce? Ten key principles that enable children to flourish.
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5 Healthy Co-Parenting Boundaries
By Tessa Noel
Posted on January 12, 2022
Are you sustaining a healthy balance with your co-parent? Are you each giving and receiving equally in your shared responsibilities for your child? If not, and you are finding that co-parenting is stressful or leaving you with feelings of exhaustion and resentment, don’t worry, you’re not alone! But this may be a sign that you need some help.
So… what’s the secret to a successful co-parenting relationship? Boundaries!
Boundaries make co-parenting so much better. Setting healthy Boundaries in co-parenting is a way to respect both parent’s time, energy and privacy while parents work together to cooperatively raise their children after divorce or separation. Boundaries create realistic expectations so that each parent can successfully step into their co-parenting role to maintain balance and harmony within the relationship. Here are five healthy co-parenting boundaries you should maintain for a successful co-parenting relationship and happy kids:
1. Keep the kids out of conflict
Adult topics should only be between you and your co-parent. Parents should go above and beyond to adopt a positive standard when speaking about their co-parent to their kids. Children self-identify with both of their parents and they feel validated when this is recognized. A comment like, “Hey buddy, you're so good at math! Just like daddy!” can be so encouraging for your child (and helps reinforce a positive co-parenting relationship). Don’t jeopardize your child’s self-worth by allowing criticism of either parent.
2. Stick to business, zero personal stuff
Advantageous co-parenting requires both parents to cooperate to ensure a professional, friendly relationship. To make this happen, it’s important for you and your co-parent to communicate as you would with a business colleague or boss at work. Keep the intimate details of each other’s personal lives out of the relationship and stay child focused. In order to move forward toward a healthy co-parenting relationship, the expectations, assumptions and informality of the former intimate relationship can no longer exist. Instead, focus on the ability to work together respectfully for the children.
3. Use effective methods of communication
You should have a solutions-based approach when dealing with issues. Here’s an example, “I noticed that Monday morning pick-ups have been running about 15 minutes behind schedule. Would it be easier if we changed the pick-up time to 8:15? Let me know and we can start next week, Thanks!” With this approach, your co-parent is less likely to be put on the defensive about being late and already has a solution to the problem. Knowing communication methods like this can help de-escalate potential disputes and keep the peace within your correspondence.
4. Be supportive of your co- parent’s role in your child’s life
If you can, include your co-parent in events in your child’s schedule, like soccer games and dance recitals. Share the inside info on what’s going on with your child that your co-parent may have missed during your parenting time. Sending a quick message like, “Just a head’s up, our daughter will now only eat Trader Joe’s brand marinara on her spaghetti,” can make a big impact. Being a supportive co-parent is an amazing way to benefit your child and create a positive dynamic in your relationship.
5. Stick to the parenting schedule
Make sure your parenting plan is comprehensive with no room for misunderstandings. The plan needs to cover parenting time, date and time of exchanges, holidays, vacations and emergency protocols. A carefully written parenting plan can be created so that work, school and social life all revolve around scheduled parenting time.
Respect your co-parents time by arriving for pick-ups/drop-offs on time, not planning activities during your co-parent's time, and making sure that the kids are available for their video call time. We all know how inconvenient last minute schedule changes can be, so try not to ask that of your co-parent unless absolutely necessary. If modifications to the schedule are needed, try to give plenty of notice so your co-parent is not caught off guard.
Setting boundaries can be hard at first and may feel uncomfortable
Once the boundary is set it will become a normal, everyday part of the co-parenting relationship that eliminates resentment and nurtures compassion. By setting specific, firm boundaries right away and keeping the relationship child focused, you are laying the foundation for an amicable co-parenting relationship for life.
Remember that your children love both their parents very much and they want both parents to be actively involved in their lives! Setting healthy co-parenting boundaries can make a big difference in how you show up for your kids to help them thrive in a two home environment.
What is co-parenting after a divorce?
By Megan Braden-Perry
Aug. 21, 2020, 10:44 AM MDT
Divorce happens. For couples with children, what comes after can make all the difference in how family dynamics continue.
Co-parenting is when divorced or separated parents work together to raise their children, instead of operating as fully independent parties. Typically co-parents collaborate on the big, impactful decisions and operate independently on small, everyday ones. Some of the biggest decisions regard visitation, education and health, which all look different in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As in any partnership, it takes compromise and mutual respect to make it work. What sets co-parenting apart from other partnerships, however, is that kids’ development is at stake.
Don't communicate while angry
“When marriages don’t work out, spouses can part ways and do as they please. Parents cannot,” medical psychologist Dr. Baraka W. Perez says. “Your child is your creation and shared responsibility. When co-parenting, it is essential to focus on the task at hand: parenting.” Start the co-parenting conversation assuming the child’s other parent also has the child’s best interest at heart. If talks get tense, try to take a breather. Communicating while angry could lead to hurtful outbursts and hasty decisions. “The takeaway message is to put personal grievances aside for the wellbeing of your child,” Perez says.
One way to help keep things fair, therefore civil, is to consider each parent’s skills and circumstances in creating a cooperative system. For instance, a parent who is an educator could have the final say in where a child goes to school. A parent who loved sports as a kid could have the final say in choosing extracurricular activities. “Once you both divide and decide to mutually parent your child, you really home in on making the decisions from your individual perspectives,” co-parent coach Toni Latrice Coleman says. “It is important for the individuals to learn they are two different people and they both hold strengths and weaknesses. I try to help identify these in my clients so that we are handing tasks off to each parent based on their strengths.”
Don't use children as the messenger
Many co-parents find that the same problems which plagued their romantic relationships are often the source of conflicts in their co-parenting. “Co-parenting can be challenging as poor communication may have contributed to the actual divorce,” Perez says. “When parents are amicable, this improves your child’s mental health and wellbeing. It also demonstrates problem solving and how to get along with someone with whom you may not see eye-to-eye.” A mistake co-parents often make, is having children relay messages to the other parent. Not only could it lead to misunderstandings, a la telephone game, but it sets a bad example of communication for the child.
Be consistent with plans
Aside from involving them in some decisions, one-parent-to-one-kid, children shouldn’t be privy to any co-parenting discussions. “Plans should be made when both parents are calm, willing to compromise, and mentally prepared to have these conversations. If circumstances allow, children should not be a part of, or even in earshot of, these conversations,” Perez says. “Imagine an auction with the child as the coveted item and parents as bidders. How must it feel to hear your parents ‘bid’ for your time?”
“Co-parenting can be challenging, but your child is worth it,” Perez says. “Communicate amicably, compromise, and be consistent with your plans.” It’s OK that it might not always be perfect or 100 percent equal. “Sometimes the choices don’t necessarily hold the best interest of the other parent,” Coleman says. “But looking at the positives of the entire picture is what can help you navigate with a lot of peace in the process.”
What Makes for Successful Co-Parenting After Divorce?
Ten key principles that enable children to flourish.
By Edward Kruk Ph.D
Posted November 10, 2014