Having separated parents seems to be very common. Divorce rates are high and some parents are not married to begin with. In fact, even though the number has been decreasing, the CDC reports that 40.2% of births in the US in 2014 were to unmarried mothers. Of course some of these parents may still be together or continue on to get married, others will be in a situation where they are co-parenting. Co-parenting might seem difficult, and sometimes it can be, but there are ways to co-parent that can help you provide the best environment possible for your children.
Planning and communication are crucial when you are co-parenting. This article from PsychologyToday.com gives some tips on the most important things to plan for with the other parent. Here are some of the topics of focus:
- Overnight stays
- Routine time
- Activity time
- Daily decisions
- Major decisions
When planning these, the most important thing is to continue to think about what would be best for the child. Even though something may be difficult or inconvenient for you, it is the goal of the parent to put the child’s best interest first.
Writing out a plan is a good idea. By doing this, there is no confusion as to what the expectations and goals are. There are tips to writing out a plan in the article above as well. If there is major difficulty in communication or difference in opinion between parents, it could be a good idea to have someone mediate. Sometimes counseling can help parents to work on communication with each other, whether that be throughout the parenting journey or just in the beginning.
Having minimal conflict between parents will help the child to feel more safe and secure.
There is no manual with the answers to co-parenting and there is not one right way to do it. What is most important is finding what works best for your family so that everyone involved can be their most successful self.