Benefits of Co-Parenting (And How to Do It)
When two people decide to separate or divorce, the first question they usually must answer is, “What’s best for the children?” Well, according to the Third International Conference on Shared Parenting, co-sponsored by the National Parents Organization and the International Council on Shared Parenting, children need both parents in their life, no matter how those two adults feel about each other. It is for this reason that most child health experts agree that co-parenting is in the best interests of children whose parents are divorced or separated.
The latest research indicates that children from divorced families, who have parents who agree to co-parent, can grow up just as well and adjusted as children from homes with married parents. They may actually fair a little better and have a lower divorce rate themselves and be more successful in their careers. Why is this?
Children that come from co-parenting learn how to proactively create good situations. They see their parents working together for THEIR benefit, which gives them a healthy sense of self-worth. They get to witness successful communication with one another which teaches them how to have good relationships with others. And, they may witness less destructive communication such as arguing, bickering, yelling, and the like that some married couples engage in regularly.
Tips for Co-Parenting
Co-parenting will take some practice to get it right. Here are some tips for you and your parenting partner:
Avoid Negative Talk (!!!)
While you may have issues with your ex, that is still your child’s parent. Refrain from “trash talking” the other around your children (or in general). Children hear more than we think so be mindful of saying anything negative about your ex when your children are home. Stop others from asking about or bringing up conversations about your ex when your children are present or within earshot. Hearing one parent talk unfavorably about the other creates insecurity, fear, and teaches unhealthy patterns.
Do Not Put Children in the Middle
Avoid putting decision making on your child. While it’s healthy for your child to have autonomy, parenting decisions should be made solely between you and your coparenting partner. Do not place guilt (overtly or covertly) on your child for wanting to spend time or talk about your ex. Do not confide in your child – no matter their age – about issues you have with your ex.
Make a Commitment
This journey will be bumpy. Make a commitment to your children and promise to have open and honest communication where their well-being is concerned.
Rules for each household should be agreed upon at the very beginning. Your children will test you both. Rules will help to ensure routine and structure, which they need greatly.
If you need help with lines of communication or help putting in place a comprehensive co-parenting plan, I encourage you to seek the guidance of a trained therapist. He or she can navigate these choppy waters so everything is done with your child’s best interests in mind.