3 Tips for Successful Coparenting

Coparenting is child-centered decision making. 

It is parents working together to ensure that their child thrives.  Successful coparenting allows both parents to play an active role in their child’s daily life. Successful coparenting  is the best way to ensure that all of your child’s needs will continue to be met.  Successful coparenting will enable your child to retain a positive relationship with each parent. 

You may have concerns about your ex’s parenting abilities or think you will never be able to overcome all the resentments you may harbor against your ex.. Speaking cordially with your ex-spouse, much less making joint agreed upon decisions about your child, can seem like an impossible task. In addition, a child can often sense the tension and anger that exists between their parents.  In order to successfully coparent your child, parents need to be able put aside their anger, hurt feelings and frustrations 

Here are three tips for positive coparenting.

Set hurt, anger, frustration, and other negative feelings about your ex-spouse aside

You need to find a healthy way to deal with and resolve those feelings, but it should never involve your child.  Your child should never hear you say negative things about your ex-spouse and they should never hear any arguments you may have with your ex-spouse. Remember, your issues with your ex-spouse are your issues not your child’s. Speaking negatively about your ex-spouse to your child or within hearing of your child can be emotionally detrimental to them, because a child often views himself/herself as a combination of their parents. When you speak negatively about your ex-spouse to them or in front of them, they may view you as also speaking negatively about them.  

Work on improving communication with your ex-spouse—keep the conversations positive and focused on the child

Keep conversations businesslike, professional and positive—no personal jabs, accusations or bringing up the past.  Make requests, not demands.  Make sure you listen as well as talk.  You both should be able to express opinions without feeling you will be verbally attacked. Most importantly, be flexible.

Co-parent as a team

you do not have to like one another to be able to successfully coparent as a team—you just need to love your child more than you dislike your ex-spouse.  It is ok for parents to have different parenting styles and for children to understand that their parents may have different views on things and to learn to be flexible. 

However, children also need to know they are living under the same basic set of expectations whether they are at mom’s house or dad’s house. A consistent set of rules will avoid confusion for your child. Children learn quickly how to play one parent against the other if rules in the homes vary greatly.  This can end up causing even more animosity between parents.  Your child is not part of the coparenting team.  Do not involve them in your coparenting decisions. Do not discuss parenting issues with them,  and don’t ask their opinion about how certain issues might be handled.  It is important for the child to see their parents as a united team. 

Each parent has valuable strengths. Recognize that you and your ex-spouse have different traits that can enhance the coparenting process and always keep your children as your focus when making coparenting decisions. 

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