10 Co-Parenting Tips to Help Your Child Thrive
These 10 tips will help parents think through co-parenting decisions and make agreements that will help your children thrive because they feel secure and confident.
1. Agree on a parenting time schedule.
Restore your child’s sense of security by setting up a regular parenting time schedule. This will decrease the anxieties a child feels upon family transitions.
Never place parenting time discussions upon the shoulders of a child. If you have a teen with strong opinions, listen to them. However, make it clear that the parenting time schedule is a parental decision. A teen may not like what they hear, but they will deeply appreciate not being caught in the middle when they are older.
2. Inform each other of the day-to-day lives of your children through a communication notebook or other agreed upon ways.
This gives parents a sense of what your child’s daily life is like when you’re not there. When living in the same household, it is much easier to catch up on what is what is happening with your children. When raising children in separate households, it creates distance if parents don’t communicate. Give one another the courtesy of sharing the little things that you know about the lives of your children.
3. Use a once-a-week, 15-minute telephone conference to keep things going smoothly.
Agree on a regular once a week, 15-minute telephone conference to discuss minor businesslike things about 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. The on-duty parent should make the contact.
4. Communication with children.
No restrictions on child-parent communication during parenting time is recommended and children should feel free to call the off-duty parent if they want to. However, be sensitive to mealtimes and bedtimes. Respect one another’s private time with children.
5. Know the important people in your child’s life.
Know the people at your child’s school, church or temple, and inform one another of the names of teachers, coaches, and your children’s friends. Use a joint communication notebook to inform one another about children’s activities or appointments along with 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. 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 their differences if they work together. Agree on what is most important for your children, such as being responsible for their school work, treating others with respect, and instilling good moral values in children.
7. Show respect for one another.
Children learn respect for others by what they experience within their home environment. When parents respect one another, they are teaching their children how to respect others.
8. Think of the other parent as a resource.
No one knows your children like you and the other parent. You are one another’s best resource when it comes to your children. There is no such thing as a “perfect” parent and all parents do the best they can. Avoid being critical or demanding of one another unless a child is being placed at risk.
9. Have a plan for how to handle new people in your life.
Children need their parents to support them in adjusting to new people in your lives. Give children permission to develop relationships with step-parents and step-siblings. Children should not be forced to choose who they should or should not love.
It is important to keep discussions between parents open and honest when working through the challenges. Keep discussions private with your children so they do not feel caught in the middle of the challenges.
Blending families is a delicate process. Allow time for children to get to know step-parents and step-siblings. Let relationship happen slowly and naturally, and don’t pressure your children. Blending families takes time and patience.
Remember that the more people that love our children, the more secure and happy they will become. Blended families can be a rich and rewarding experience for everyone with care and knowledge. There are many articles and books available on blended families.
10. 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!