What Does Healthy Co-Parenting Look Like?

What Does Healthy Co-Parenting Look Like?

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What Does Healthy Co-Parenting Look Like?

Divorcing spouses are never at their best during the divorce process and rarely immediately after their divorce. However, as the months pass and the contention of divorce is left behind, making a conscious effort to prioritize the needs of the children is the best possible way to move forward after divorce with the least amount of emotional damage to the children.

Healthy, cooperative co-parenting is not only advisable, but it’s also possible to achieve even after an adversarial divorce. It may require a real effort initially, but it eventually feels more natural. Divorced co-parents may even become friendly and supportive toward each other. But most importantly, the children feel like they’re still a family even though their family is now in two households.

How to Co-Parent Effectively

When parents share children, it’s a permanent connection. Even with very young children, if they look far into the future, they’ll be together for major moments like graduations and weddings. Though effective co-parenting, these shared moments can be joyous instead of stressful for parents and their children. Healthy co-parenting after divorce requires doing the following:

  • Behaving civilly together not only when the children are present but throughout all interactions
  • Supporting each other’s disciplinary decisions with the children
  • Discussing major issues such as children’s school grades, extra-curricular activities, successes, and problems together without blame or arguments
  • Abiding by the court-ordered schedule as much as possible but remaining open to compromising when scheduling conflicts arise. For instance, if one parent would like to take the children to a special event on a day that’s not on their schedule, the other parent should be flexible and offer to trade a day
  • Giving the other parent the right of first refusal if you need a babysitter
  • Discussing gift-giving ideas for birthdays and holidays to prevent buying the same gifts
  • Attending some of your children’s sports games and other activities together

You don’t have to be best friends with your ex, but if you share children, it’s beneficial to them and to you to have a civil, supportive relationship with the other important person in their lives.

Respecting the Other Parent Is the Basis of Healthy Co-Parenting

Acting civil and supportive shouldn’t be just for the sake of your children. The basis of healthy co-parenting is to respect the other parent’s boundaries and decisions. Uphold any disciplinary action they take with the children by presenting a united front, but if you disagree with their reasons or methods, have a respectful conversation about it away from the children.

It’s also important to be respectful of a co-parent’s new relationship. It’s acceptable to discuss the aspects of new relationships that affect the children, such as how long each parent should wait before introducing the children to a new romantic interest. After making these important rules and setting boundaries, both ex-spouses should carefully adhere to those rules.

Focus on Remaining a Family

Finally, the best way to effectively co-parent and move forward from divorce with the least amount of emotional harm to the children is to focus on the fact that you are still a family even when you live apart. If one or both parents eventually move on to new permanent relationships, stay positive about it in front of the children with the mindset that the family is expanding and children can never have too many people loving them and looking out for their wellbeing.