A simple Google search will tell you that Coparenting is the word used to describe a situation where two parents work together to raise a child even though they are divorced, separated, or no longer together. And, boy does it take work. There is a reason you two are no longer together… actually, there are probably a million reasons for the demise of your relationship. And even though you no longer want to be with this person on a daily basis, you must continue to interact with them because you share a child together.
“Co-parenting. It’s not a competition between two houses. It’s a collaboration of parents doing what is best for the kids.” – Heather Hetchler, www.CafeSmom.com
So what can you do to help this collaboration along? Here are five tips to help with Coparenting:
1. Scheduling. You must decide on a coparenting schedule that works best for you and your ex AND your child. There are schedules for 50/50 custody, 80/20 custody, every-other-week custody, and the list goes on and on. You can view many of these different options (or create a custom schedule) on the Let’s Coparent App. (www.letscoparent.com).
2. Make Adjustments and be Flexible. If you or your ex-partner need to make a trade one night because they have a work function come up or their favorite musical artist is in town, try to work with them. As long as it doesn’t become a habit, you never know when you might need them to take the kids a night for you.
3. Do not put your kids in the middle. A friend of mine told me that her ex is telling their daughter to keep secrets from her mom. Not okay. It’s also not okay to make kids give messages to the other parent. Kids are not meant to be the go-between between you and your ex. Figure out a way to communicate. There are messaging systems for that.
4. Maintain a cordial relationship with your ex front of your children, even if your ex isn’t around. Also known as “put on your happy face”. Your kids don’t need to see you fight. Chances are, they saw enough of that while you were still together. Even though you might be seething mad at your child’s parent, for the sake of your kids, but it aside when they are around. Make their sports activities about them, not about you and your ex. It’s also important not to speak poorly of your ex in front of your kids. They are like little sponges and will absorb it all. They don’t need to know who is to blame for the divorce. They don’t need to know that the child support check is late. Let them be kids. Make the adults handle the adult business. Also, many divorce decrees have a No Disparaging Remarks clause, so just an extra reason to be mindful of your words.
5. Share your child’s accomplishments. I was out of town for work a couple of weeks ago and I got a text from my ex. “The boy just scored his first touchdown!” I hated that I wasn’t there for it, but I really appreciated that I was included in the excitement. Our son also got a nice note home from his teacher a couple of days ago. Since it was my night with him, I was the one who got to see the note. Before I filed it away, I took a picture of it and sent it to his dad. He, too, was appreciative that he wasn’t left out. Parenting is hard work. You are both working hard to raise a little human. You should try your best to include each other in the joys that come with it.