Divorce adds a lot of strain to a family and it is never fun. It is important for parents to emphasize their love and agree to be united when it comes to their children. They must come first. One way to do this is through co-parenting. Co-parenting occurs when divorced parents intentionally create a parenting plan that puts the needs of the children ahead of the needs of the parents. The parents go beyond whatever the court has ordered, and sit down together and purposefully plan how they will parent their children. In addition to visitation and holidays, a co-parenting plan includes several rules for dealing with issues.
The child is never put in the middle, between the parents.
That means that the parents must communicate directly and often, no matter how uncomfortable that is. The child must never carry information from one parent to the other. The parents must talk frequent so that both know what is going on with the child, and what is going on in both families.
The child’s relationship with each parent is supported and encouraged.
Parents do not try to one-up each other or curry favor with the child. They don’t denigrate or criticize each other, either, and they don’t allow the children to criticize the other parent. A co-parenting agreement should state that both parents will respect the child’s relationship with the other parent. Issues between the parents stay between the parents and are not discussed in front of the children.
Boundaries and rules are agreed upon and enforced in both households.
Bedtimes, TV limits, when friends can stay over…all the rules that were in force when the family lived in one household have to be renegotiated and reinforced. Keeping them consistent in both households gives the children more stability and security.
Both parents discuss any discipline issues.
Children will push the limits of this new situation, they will try to play the parents off against each other and they will act out. The parents must communicate frequently about any behavior issues the child has. They must agree on appropriate discipline and both parents must enforce the discipline. If Annie is grounded for a week for putting gravy in Dad’s fishbowl, Mom has to be aware of what happened, and Annie has to be grounded at Mom’s house, too.
Co-parenting allows the children in a divorce to remain children. It minimizes the disruption the children experience and allows them to heal from the divorce more quickly. It establishes and enforces healthy boundaries and ensures consistent rules and discipline. It costs the parents emotionally because they must set their differences aside in order to put the needs of their children first, and it’s a bit hectic. When parents divorce, co-parenting assures the best possible outcome for their children.