Moving on from a relationship can be hard enough, but having children in the mix will make the situation even more complex. You need to make sure that you are able to make co-parenting your children work properly, no matter what form this might take. Here are some of our best tips to help you make co-parenting work.
In This Article
If you want to make co-parenting work, you need to make sure that you are communicating properly. You are only going to go round in discussions and arguments if you are not willing to properly talk to each other. It does not matter if you talk and text every day or whether you only get in touch when there is something to say – you need to make sure that you are keeping the levels of communication up.
Is there something that you want to establish as part of your agreement? You need to make sure that it is brought up in conversation as early as possible so you can discuss and settle it. If you don’t get on very well with your ex-partner, try to ensure that you keep these communications as civil as possible. Focus on the needs and wellbeing of your children, and not on the shortcomings and failures of your relationship. The easier that you find it to communicate, the easier you will hopefully find co-parenting.
Discuss the Future
Are there likely to be any big changes in the future? Though you might not have any plans at the moment, you have to consider the possibility that something might change soon. You need to make sure that you are both on the page about some of the big steps that you might want to take as adults and individuals, and how they will affect your children.
For example, do you know what will happen if one of you gets into a relationship again? Onward’s guide to co-parenting while in a relationship can give you some helpful insight. You need to make sure that the new partner is introduced to your children properly, while also ensuring that the co-parenting relationship is kept intact. Many people might feel threatened if another adult enters the picture in a potentially disciplinary or parental role.
Likewise, do you know what would happen if one of you were to move away? Though you might live in the same area at the moment, what happens if one of you gets a better job opportunity elsewhere? How often will the children get to see you and spend proper quality time with you? What happens if one of you has to move abroad? These are all important details that need to be discussed so you can make a plan in the future if one of these scenarios does come to pass.
You need to make sure that you have good boundaries with each other that you are happy to obey. These are going to be vital for ensuring that you will be able to have a good working relationship with each other, and so you can manage the expectations of how each other should behave.
Your children might spend one weekend with you, and one with your former partner. That can work well, but what happens if there is a holiday that could interrupt a weekend? Likewise, what will happen if your former partner is unable to pick up the children after an activity or during something else that is technically their turn? Are a few slips fine, or do you have a one strike and consequences system in place?
When you do enter new relationships, you also need to make sure that you are both clear about the role that your new partners will take. Having a new partner step into the role of the step-parent and begin to discipline your children and take them out on their own is a big move forward in a relationship, and is something that needs to be discussed between the co-parents and the new partner. For example, you might not be happy about your ex’s new partner posting pictures of your children on their social media. Make your voice heard, but ensure that you are willing to listen too.
Bear the Wishes of Your Children in Mind
Whatever happens, you need to make sure that you bear the wishes of your children in mind. If they are older, you can involve them in discussions, but you should also pay close attention to the needs of your younger ones too. This could be a particularly turbulent time for them, and they might not always be the best at expressing their feelings.
Likewise, they might also have some requests that you should try to facilitate where you can, particularly if they are older. For example, if you have teenagers who are about to start exams, they might want to settle in one place with one parent to try to minimise the disruption in their life before things get overwhelming for them. You do, however, need to ensure that they do still see their other parent, unless there is good reason for them not to.
Understand Each Other’s Needs
Co-parenting is a real challenge, but it is important that you do put in the effort to make it work. You need to make sure that you are able to communicate and work together for the full benefit of your children. There will always be some issue that can come up, but you have to work together to overcome it.
Remember that all of this is for the benefit of your children. Though your romantic relationship might have fallen apart, you need to make sure that you are able to maintain one for the sake of the children you share together. They have to come first, and it is important that you make decisions that best benefit them. Co-parenting is not the easiest thing you will have to go through together, but it can definitely become manageable with the right attitude.