Co-parenting can be a challenge, especially when a divorce or separation is high conflict. Emotions can run high and children can often feel the effects of the fallout.
This week, we’re suggesting some top co-parenting tips that put the children at the centre, and help you to manage a potentially difficult situation.
Always put the children first
We’ll never stop emphasising the importance of this point. When it comes to relationship breakdowns, contact arrangements and co-parenting, children should always be put first.
Even if there’s tension or unresolved issues between you as parents, it’s essential that you try and work together to ensure the children are happy. Separation and divorce can result in a lot of upset and disruption for children, and watching them go through this will only make moving forward much harder for you in the long run.
Some separating couples choose to work with a mediator or a family therapist to help you and your co-parent bring the conversation back to what is best for the children when your past marital issues start to heat up the discussion.
Communication is key
When it comes to managing difficult relationships, respectful communication is essential. Co-parents need to be able to talk about what they want and need from each other with regards to childcare and the important decisions that affect the children.
It can also help parents to find the appropriate boundaries for them and make sure that they’re on the same page. For example, if face-to-face discussions aren’t possible, arrange a different means of communication for sharing information about the children. Perhaps try a handover book, or agree that you’ll only contact one another about things that affect the children.
It’s really important to keep communication honest and open at all times, no matter how the co-parents feel about each other.
Stick to your word
Organisation and reliability are really important when it comes to keeping things running smoothly. Children need consistency and structure to help them get used to a new way of doing things when it comes to family. It also shows children that each parent is taking responsibility and putting in the effort to do what’s best for them.
If one parent keeps chopping and changing plans, the other may feel disrespected or let down, which could increase tension and conflict even further.
That being said, sometimes flexibility is also necessary. If plans need to change once in a while, that’s OK, so have a plan for communicating and negotiating these kinds of changes with your co-parent.
Stay on the same page
If each parent is setting different boundaries or giving different rules for the children, it can cause a lot of confusion.
The best case scenario in co-parenting is for both parents to be consistent and in agreement with rules regarding behaviour and discipline, bedtimes, screen time, playtime, personal hygiene, and household chores.
This can be tricky if parenting styles differ within a family unit. In this case, it’s good to establish common ground. If the fundamental principles are the same, each parent should be able adapt their parenting style to fit those core elements.
Try to stay positive
Co-parenting isn’t always easy. It’s important to know that it’s OK if things aren’t perfect straight away. This is a learning curve for everyone. It’s all about trying your best to keep the children happy, safe and loved, because ultimately that’s what matters.
We’re here to help
At Starting Point, we know that co-parenting doesn’t always go according to plan. That’s where we come in.
It’s our job to offer a safe, objective space where parents can have contact with their children when times are tough. To work with a contact centre that wants to make a genuine difference, give us a call today.