Co-parenting is a way of raising children after their parents have divorced or separated. It involves the two parents working together to make decisions about the children, while still maintaining their own separate lives. It's no secret that co-parenting can be challenging. It's a lot of work to make sure both parents are understanding, patient and supportive when raising their children in different households. But it's not impossible.
Co-parenting can be beneficial for children because it helps them develop a sense of security and stability and gives them access to both parents' love and guidance. However, it can also be challenging and lead to problems if the parents are not able to work together effectively or if they do not agree on important issues such as how much time each parent spends with the child, major decisions around the child's education, health and religion, and how much money each parent pays in child support.
Here are some ways to make sure you're handling your co-parenting responsibilities as effectively as possible:
Have a co-parenting plan in place
The importance of having a co-parenting plan in place cannot be overstated. While you may have agreed to share custody of your child, it's still important that both parents know what their roles are and how they should interact with each other. A co-parenting plan gives you both clarity on what's expected from each other throughout the year, which can help reduce conflict and frustration as well as improve communication between parents. A good co-parenting plan should include the following pointers:
A schedule for when each parent has the child. This can include holidays and weekends as well.
What happens if one parent needs to change the schedule. For example, what happens if one parent travels out of town or has a last-minute business trip?
How the expenses of raising your child will be split. This can include things like daycare, health care costs and extracurricular activities.
What happens if one parent wants to change his or her residence?
Who will be responsible for making decisions regarding your child’s education, health care and well-being.
What happens if one parent doesn't follow the co-parenting plan?
Keep communication channels open
Co-parenting often works best when the you and the co-parent have an open line of communication between them. It is best if both of you are willing to compromise on your individual preferences and put the child's needs first.
When you are co-parenting, one of the most important things is to communicate with your former spouse about issues that concern your child. Whether it is updates from your child's teachers, or health concerns that require an adult's supervision, communication between you and the co-parent will ensure the continuity of care for your child.
If there are any issues arising out of parenting time or custody arrangements, try not to let them fester until they become bigger issues--address them right away so they don't become larger problems later on.
It's important that you try to maintain a cooperative relationship with your former spouse. This doesn't mean that you have to be best friends or even good friends, but rather that you should continue to work together as parents for the sake of your children.
Keep it positive, even during disagreements
One of the most important things you can do is to keep it positive, even during disagreements. It can be tempting to use your children as a way to get back at your ex, but this will only hurt everyone involved in the long run. Instead, try to focus on maintaining a civil tone and keeping things positive when talking with your former partner -- even if they're being difficult or unfair.
You should also be careful about what you say in front of the children; while it's okay for them to know that there are some issues between their parents (and you should explain these), there's no need for them to hear all of the details about why those issues exist or what happened in past situations involving their other caregivers/family members/etc., especially if those details weren't particularly pleasant ones.
Be prepared to set aside your own emotions
It's easy to get caught up in your own emotions when you're dealing with a marital breakdown. But it's important for both parents to be able to put aside their own feelings and make decisions that are in the best interest of their children.
Remember: Your kids are watching. How you handle your emotions and relate to your ex-spouse will be imprinted in their minds. Even if they aren't old enough to understand what's going on, they'll pick up on how you act around each other - and this will affect them later on in life.
If you and your ex are able to communicate effectively, it will help the whole family. And if you can't get along, then maybe it's time to consider a mediator or a counsellor who can help you come up with a plan and work through the issues that prevent an effective co-parenting relationship.
Keep your focus on the children
As a parent, the most important thing is to ensure that your children are well-cared for and loved. You want them to experience minimal impact of the divorce, which means you should try not to make them feel responsible for what happened or take sides in any way.
Even if you hold negative views and feelings about your ex-spouse, your child may still want to maintain a relationship with the other parent. Remember to focus on your child's needs and do not prevent your child from having that relationship with the other parent. Subtle disapproving behaviours such as badmouthing your ex to your child discourages them from forming the relationship.
If you are able to focus on your children's needs, it will be easier for you to put aside any differences you have with your ex.
Co-parenting can be a challenge, but it doesn't have to lead you into conflict. By following these tips, you can make co-parenting a less stressful experience for everyone involved-especially your children.
At Redwood Psychology, our mission is to help clients through difficult patches in their lives by utilising scientifically supported therapy methods. If you’re looking to book couples therapy or divorce counselling sessions in Singapore with our clinicians, reach out to us via our contact us page to make an appointment.