Co-parenting rules, much like house rules, are different for every arrangement. One thing is for certain, an established set of rules and boundaries make for a peaceful home and life.
If you are recently divorced or separated from your partner with kids, creating an arrangement that works for everyone can be challenging. It’s easy to get wrapped up in “winning” a discussion over visitation, splitting holidays and the general day-to-day decisions, but it’s also important to remember the big ticket item: the kids.
Unfortunately, many families have high-conflict situations which are continuously exasperated by the smallest changes and requests.
I’m here to tell you: It doesn’t have to be that way! There are ways to make co-parenting easier for everyone, especially the kids.
What is Co-Parenting?
Co-parenting is the process in which two parents divide the responsibilities of raising their children separately.
Unfortunately, even in the most ideal situations, the children suffer greatly, which is why it is absolutely, positively, 100% worth every effort to make the co-parenting process as seamless as possible.
How We Co-Parent
We are very lucky to have minimal interaction – including conflict – with my husband’s ex-wife.
I’ve mentioned before in a few other of my posts on blended family advice that I do not interact with his ex. Interactions are defined as: phone calls, emails, suggestions, opinions, questions, letters, faxes, pigeon carriers, text messages. We communicate briefly when we are picking up or dropping off Nikolai.
And that, is why I believe we have the low-conflict “relationship” that we do. I leave all of the communication to my husband and his ex-wife. She is, afterall, Nikolai’s mother and one of his main guardians.
No communication, aside from a nice smile and vague small talk during an exchange, keeps the field neutral.
As much as stepmoms deserve a “mom” card, too. It’s important that we recognize this boundary when there is an involved and sensible mother still in the picture.
Co-Parenting Rules for a Successful Blended Family
So, I’ve told you about our situation, but what are the hard and fast rules for other homes? Well, in those uncharted waters I’m sorry to say there are none, but, as a team, everyone can work together to provide a stable upbringing for your child.
1. Make the Children the Focus
This isn’t about you. It isn’t about your husband. And it’s not about your step-children’s mom or step-dad. It’s about the kids. This should never be a contest between the parents. Everyone should be working together to make sure the children are growing up in a stable, safe, loving environment. If co-parenting starts to slide to more of a focus on the parents, step back and remind everyone that it’s the kids that are important.
2. Create Common Values
When co-parenting, everyone needs to be on board with how the children will be raised. It’s not fair to anyone when one household does things differently. Sit down together and discuss what should be expected of the children, consequences, how much screen time they should have, etc.
This will eliminate confusion between the two households and make things clear and consistent for the child.
3. Spare Your Children the Bad Comments
If you are talking ugly about the other parent in front of the child, you are part of the problem.
And you should be ashamed of your behavior.
Pardon me for being blunt, but there is never. ever. ever. a reason to put a child’s parent down.
Keep adult problems between adults. Your child is simply trying to make sense of this new arrangement. And you’re only in the beginning stages, so tighten up buttercup. This is a rocky road.
Snide and underhanded remarks resolve nothing. No matter how badly you are hurting, lashing out through your child will only do damage to the child.
Co-parenting doesn’t have to be difficult. The most important thing to remember is that the children should be the main focus. Work hard to have common values and rules in both homes, and never speak badly of the other parents. Both sides can raise this child and peacefully co-parent without turning the situation into a three-ring circus.