Generally, each parent has an equal right to participate in parenting, and it’s no longer a given that primary parenting will go to the mother. A growing number of divorced couples are deciding to actively co-parent their minor children.
Sharing parenting can be difficult after a divorce, but it can be easier if both parents truly consider what’s best for the kids. If you are co-parenting with your ex, there are things you can do to make it easier for you – and for the kids.
In an article, “Tips for Divorced Parents Co-parenting with Your Ex and Making Joint Custody Work” authors Jocelyn Block, M.A. and Melinda Smith, M.A., say children whose parents can work together feel more secure and stable following a divorce.
The authors also says you should never use your children as a messenger between you and your ex. “When you have your child tell the other parent something for you, it puts him or her in the center of your conflict. The goal is to keep your child out of your relationship issues, so call or email your ex yourself,” they explain.
Consistency in discipline, rules and scheduling is important in sharing parenting the authors say, “Where you can, aim for some consistency in your children’s schedules. Making meals, homework, and bedtimes similar can go a long way toward your child’s adjustment to having two homes.”
In a blog post, 10 Co-Parenting Commandments, author Lynn Nelson advises parents to pick their battles. You aren’t going to do everything the same as your former spouse, and that can be OK. “If an activity won’t harm them physically or psychologically, it probably is none of your business. Recognize it’s okay, maybe even good, for children to learn different ways of doing things. It’s almost certain that the other parent won’t do everything your way,” she writes.
And remember, in doing something as important as co-parenting, communication with your ex is key. “It’s good to get into a regular habit of checking in with each other on the days when parenting is shared. A worst-possible scenario is that lack of communication could lead to a child not being picked up after school or day care, or important medical treatment being disrupted,” Nelson writes.