Tips for Effective Coparenting
Being a single parent carries with it a number of specific challenges. However, beyond the inevitable trials and tribulations that will arise from raising children, single parents have the dual responsibility of learning how to effectively coparent with their child’s other parent. For some, this may come naturally, but for others it can be a huge challenge; particularly if there are difficulties with communication and/or conflicting parenting styles.
That being said, learning how to successfully parent your child as a team is the best way of ensuring that he or she receives the best upbringing possible. It can also lessen any of the potential negative effects of divorce on children. Read on for effective coparenting strategies that can adapt to fit any parenting situation.
DO: Set a business-like tone.
Instead of thinking about your child’s other parent as your ex, or any other derogatory term, think of him as your business partner. In our workplace environments we tend to work with a variety of individuals, some of whom we might never associate with outside of the office. However, we always manage to find ways of relating to one another, for the sake of our jobs, or the business more generally. Think of your child’s safety and well being as your “business,” the success of which will depend in large part on your ability to cooperate.
DON’T: Talk negatively about your child’s other parent
This includes not allowing others to talk negatively about the other parent, their family and friends, or their home, especially in front of your child. It is also not appropriate to discuss or question your child’s parent’s personal life with your child. In other words, do not use the child to spy on the other parent.
DO: Communicate on a weekly basis
Although this may seem like an impossible request for some parents – especially those who have recently experienced a divorce – learning how to communicate on a regular basis is extremely important, as it demonstrates to your child that as parents, you take her care very seriously. It is also a great way of curbing any unexpected dilemmas in terms of visitation, as you can keep each other informed on any up-and-coming scholastic, medical, or extracurricular activities, as well as any other appointments involving your child.
To facilitate this, it is a good idea to create a schedule that includes all the topics you wish to discuss regularly, and fill it out before each meeting. If each of you makes the effort to do this prior to each meeting, you will quickly find the meetings becoming much more productive. This will also help to steer the meetings in the right direction, and away from any negative conversation.
DON’T: Make decisions regarding visitation in the absence of the other parent.
This means not scheduling your child for activities during the other parent’s period of possession without the other parent’s consent. However, it is important that both parents work together to allow the child to be involved in extracurricular activities.
DO: Set similar rules.
It is important to establish similar household policies when it comes to disciplinary tactics as well as routines, including bedtime and feeding. Your child should understand that their behavior will be rewarded/punished similarly no matter which parent they are with.
DON’T: Try to win over the child by being more lenient.
This will create confusion and foster resentment in your child over time. It is very important that parents avoid any tactics they feel will create favor in the eyes of their child. This includes: not making promises to the children to try and win them over at the expense of the other parent, not forcing them to choose where they would like to spend their time, and not making them feel guilty for enjoying time spent with their other parent.