Co-parenting has become a much more common term in recent years, compared to the “sole custody” in which the mother has traditionally maintained full responsibility for the children. Co-parenting has a positive effect on children because it encourages fathers to have an equal (or as equal as possible) role in their children’s lives. It also makes it easier for working mothers to maintain full-time employment, which is often necessary to pay the bills and support the family.
To succeed in co-parenting, there has to be full co-operation from the onset of the separation or divorce. A parenting agreement should be created to ensure that all parties know what is expected of them, and how decisions will be made ongoing.
The 5 essential pieces to make co-parenting successful are:
1. Live Within Close Proximity
If there is too much distance between the mother’s and father’s residence, it will be very challenging to properly co-parent. Both parties should be close enough to the children’s school, activities, and friends, so that it doesn’t cause disruption or added stress.
2. Efficient Scheduling
The best schedule will minimize the number of times children have to go back and forth between homes, yet still provide adequate time with each parent. Due to job demands, one parent may have to take on more than the other parent, but the goal should be to be as equal as possible keeping the best interest of the children in mind. This also allows for each parent to maintain their own social life. Special occasions and holidays also need to be taken into consideration.
3. Respect for Each Other’s Parenting Styles
It’s rare for people to have the exact same parenting styles, so parents have to respect each other’s decisions, whether they completely agree with them or not. This could include discipline, food choices, bedtimes, what they can watch on television, etc. Unless there is a serious risk to the child, parents must resist the urge to criticize the other. If something is not appropriate, this should be discussed among the parents when the children are not around. Appear as a team.
4. Acceptance of Each Other’s New Love Interests
After a separation or divorce, even if it ended on very bad terms, it can still be hard for one to accept that their former spouse has moved on and started dating or even plan to get remarried. Parents need to refrain from putting down the new partner in front of the kids to ensure that they don’t feel like they have to pick sides. It can create unnecessary awkwardness and anxiety, and no one needs to be placed under more stress in an already stressful situation.
5. Solid Conflict Resolution Skills
Parents need to be able to solve issues effectively and calmly. It is a very good idea to have a mediation clause in the separation agreement, so when a problem arises, they can have someone to help them resolve it and move on. Being able to constructively manage disputes is often a “make it or break it” in terms of a successful co-parenting arrangement.