Parenting isn’t easy.
That may be the understatement of the century on its own. But, when you’re trying to parent while separated or divorced, it’s a completely different animal. You might have a hard time being around your former partner. Communication may not be easy. In some cases, face-to-face communication might not even be an option, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, all parents have to settle on one thing – putting their children first.
No matter what happened in your relationship, deciding to put those things aside and focus on what’s best for your kids should be your top priority. Unfortunately, that’s sometimes easier said than done.
So, how can you overcome the challenges of co-parenting and work together for the sake of your children?
Finding What Works for You
There are countless arrangements you can create as co-parents. You might still cohabitate with your partner, even if you’re technically separated. While that can make it easier to have the same rules under one roof, it can also increase tensions. In those cases, setting boundaries is important.
Creating an arrangement that works for you if you and your partner live in separate locations can be a bit more difficult. It’s important to communicate your needs but keep your children at the center of the conversation. Some of the most common/popular co-parenting arrangements today include:
- Regular parenting time
- Holidays and vacation time
- Extended family time
There are several things to consider when deciding on a parenting plan. Think about where your children go to school, activities they’re involved in, their social lives, and even their transportation. Remember, your children are experiencing the effects of your separation, too. Keeping things as easy as possible for them and making sure their lives don’t change much is important.
Dealing With Schedules
Kids today are busier than ever. Between school, sports, a social life, and other extracurricular activities, it can feel like your children’s schedule never stops. Unfortunately, busy schedules can sometimes create conflict between co-parents.
It’s not fair to your kids to remove them from things they love. You also shouldn’t rip them away from their friends or throw too much of a wrench in a schedule they’re used to.
Instead, talk with your co-parent about how you can adjust your schedules to fit your children’s needs. Technology makes this easier than ever. You can sync digital calendars, use online sticky notes to remember appointments and communicate asynchronously, and send regular reminders to each other about your children’s daily schedule. It won’t always be easy, but it’s the best way to put your children first.
You might find that busy schedules force you to adjust your parenting plan sometimes. That can be challenging, at first. But, flexibility and adaptability are necessary. Life doesn’t always follow a rigid schedule, and neither should you. If you do, the only ones you’ll end up hurting, in the end, are your kids.
Agreeing on the Basics
You might find that the everyday decisions you make as a parent end up being the most challenging. If you’re trying to effectively co-parent, you’ll need to agree on just about every aspect of your children’s lives, including:
- Where they go to school
- Activities they’re involved in
- Their religious upbringing
- Sports they play
- Extended family members can stay with
You’ll also have to make joint decisions about their healthcare. That includes more than who their doctor is and how often they go in for a physical. For example, if you notice that your child seems to be squinting, having trouble in school, or complaining of headaches, you should communicate with your co-parent about taking them to an eye doctor to check for vision problems.
Obviously, if there’s a medical emergency of any kind, whoever your kids are with should take action. But, for more long-term medical needs, communicate to make those decisions together in the best interest of your children.
If your children are old enough, talk to them about these everyday decisions, too. It’s okay to include them in your conversations and take what they want into account.
Hopefully, you’ve seen through this article that there is one key component to overcoming the challenges of co-parenting – communication.
It’s not always easy, and it will be frustrating at times. But, for the sake of your children, co-parenting and communication always need to go hand-in-hand.