Here are 12 simple strategies to help you develop an effective shared parenting strategy that will greatly benefit everyone – and especially your children.
1. Agree on a parenting time schedule, times for phone calls and other types of communication between parent and child.
Make parenting time with your children a priority. Be sure you follow through and be there when you say you will be there and be on time. Your children will get a message that you don’t care and it is unfair for the other parent to lie for you rather than see your children hurt. You will also be teaching your children to be irresponsible and disrespectful! Your child looks forward to seeing you and it’s important to remember that he or she depends on you to be there when you say you will. What you consider a schedule is a promise to your child.
2. Inform each other of the day-to-day lives of your children.
Know your child’s day-to-day routine. This gives you a sense of what your child’s daily life is like when you’re not there. Even if you were raising your children in the same household you will not be with your children all the time. However, when living in the same household it is much easier to catch up on what is what is happening with your children. Give one another the courtesy of sharing the little things that you know about the lives of the kids.
3. Develop a communication plan with one another regarding your children only.
Agree on a regular once a week, 15 minute telephone conference to discuss minor businesslike things regarding your children, such as appointments, extracurricular activities, school needs and scheduling changes. Do not schedule this conference during an exchange and make it a time when the children are settled down and at a time when you are not hurried or stressed.
4. Develop a communication plan with your children.
It is important to have a plan for staying in touch with your child when you don’t have parenting time. A regular phone call or, for older children, the use of email, text messaging, or other technology can work well. It is essential that both you and the other parent agree this is important.
5. Know the important people in your child’s life.
Know the people at your child’s school and church or temple, and the child’s teachers, coaches, and best friends. Use a joint communication notebook to inform one another about the lives of your children in addition to verbal communications. Writing appointments down, names of who your children are hanging out with, and listing the names of teachers and others involved in your children’s lives is a good way of keeping your children safe as well as keeping both parents informed and involved with the loves of their kids.
6. Keep your child out of parental disagreements.
No matter what the feelings are between you and the other parent, avoid transferring your emotions, opinions or feelings onto your children. It is also frightening, and at the least, upsetting, when parents fight in front of their children. Keep your children out of the middle of your battles and always ensure that both of you love them and that your disagreements are between you and the other parent and that you will make the important decisions regarding their lives. Ensure them that they will never have to choose between you. Keeping your children out of your battles ensures that your children have a peaceful and healthy home environment.
7. Work through parenting style differences.
It is not unusual for one parent to be stricter on household rules, bedtimes and chores than the other parent. This can cause disagreements, but parents can overcome the challenges when they work together. Agree on what is most important regarding your children, responsible with their school work, treating others with respect and good moral values. For every disagreement regarding a parenting style ask yourself how important it is in establishing what is important.
8. Show appreciation and respect for one another.
Set your children free to express love for both of you. Your children learn about healthy relationships when they see parents respect one another. When you treat the other with respect, you can also ask to be respected.
9. Think of the other parent as a resource.
No one knows your children like you and the other parent. There is no such thing as a “perfect” parent. Do the best you can and avoid being critical or demanding. Give one another the benefit of the doubt and think of one another as a resource in raising healthy, happy kids – and responsible and compassionate adults.
10. Have a plan for how to handle new people in your life.
When you or the other parent enter a new relationship, help your child adjust. Allow your children the time to develop relationships with step parents and step siblings. Don’t expect too much of your significant other or your children by moving relationships along too quickly.
11. Include your child in regular home life activities, chores and responsibilities.
The best times with children can be the simplest times. Even doing household chores, homework and just hanging out can bring good conversation, laughs and opportunity to develop a good relationship with your child.
12. Develop your own family rituals.
Develop special routines just for you and your child. Holidays will be different, and children grieve what used to be. Develop your own special traditions. It could be a special place you go or something you make together. Build family traditions that last into the generations to come!