Making Co-parenting Work

When parents divorce, too often it's the child caught in the middle who suffers the most. One thing a parent can do to offer stability, and to ensure the child maintains a close relationship with both parents after a breakup, is to cooperatively parent, or co-parent. While not always the easiest task, co-parenting with sole or joint custody can work with a little effort from both parents, creating the best possible situation for the children involved.

To successfully co-parent, parents must focus first and foremost on their children's needs, setting aside the personal, and often negative, feelings they may have for each other. This requires cooperation, and remembering that everything must be with the child's interests in mind. It is important to never vent about a former spouse or partner around the child; and be certain to never put the children in the middle of any ongoing problems between parents. Messages should not be sent through the child, and parents should refrain from making negative comments about the other parent in front of the children.

To ease the transition, parents should maintain similar rules, discipline methods and schedules at both houses whenever possible. Both parents should also be involved in all major decisions, such as those relating to medical care, education and finances.

Disagreements will likely occur. When they do, effective co-parents treat each other with respect, keep the lines of communication open and are willing to compromise.

Co-parenting is beneficial for both children and parents. The benefit to the child is the most obvious because the child gets the love and support of both parents on a regular basis. Spending time with both parents helps the child adjust more quickly to family changes, such as separation and divorce, and offers the child more security and consistency at a time when everything is changing. Seeing parents working together also provides the child with role models for problem solving.

In a time when often both parents work full-time, co-parenting can help parents by equally dividing responsibilities and alleviating pressure. Co-parenting also gives each parent a more significant role in their child's life and the chance to participate more in every day decisions involving the welfare of the child.