10 tips for effective co-parenting



How well do you co-parent and what would your partner say? Co-parenting is one of the biggest concerns married parents have and yet often they don’t realize the impact their differences have on their children. Often times when parents want help with a struggling child, they end up discussing parental communication and management of disagreements.

The pace of life today leaves parents little time to fully learn each other’s position. Truly understanding your mate’s position will make it easier to communicate about differences, resulting in less conflict and more patience and tolerance of each other’s unique positions. Remembering that both parents share a desire for their child to be successful, happy and well-adjusted is important in the midst of disagreements.

Here are 10 tips to help parents co-parent more effectively, resulting in a more peaceful and accepting home and therefore less stressed out children.

1. Perspective taking. Before you discuss something important, recognize that not everyone will have your perspective. The more you are really able to listen and understand the other parent’s position, the easier it will be to be heard yourself.

2. You do not have all the answers. Parenting is one of the most important jobs a person will ever have to do. There is no instruction manual for it or place that people can study to become “experts” in parenting. It’s a learned practice and requires love, dedication, patience, consistency, commitment, and an endless list of other attributes. View parenting as a life-long process of learning. Be willing to get ongoing outside consultation, either on the web, via reading or by talking with an expert. No matter how confident you are as parent, you don’t have all the answers.

3. Be willing to accept feedback. Your partner may not like the way you parent, and with good reason. Hear him or her out before you decide they are off base. Consider asking a friend if you are unsure about it.

4. Keep parenting separate from couple’s issues. If you are not intimate enough with your partner or not spending enough time together, don’t allow those issues play out in parenting decisions. That’s your business, not your children’s, and they don’t deserve to have it interfere with your effectiveness.

5. Don’t divide. Keep firm boundaries. Don’t bad mouth your partner in front of the children no matter how much you’re tempted to or how angry you are at some decision you don’t agree with. Comments like, “I thought your father overreacted to you coming in late,” only promote splitting, and unless you want to raise children with personality challenges, steer clear of putting each other down.

6. Make time to discuss your parenting. Discuss parenting during a time that is separate from your couple time. Just like you don’t want to talk about your kid’s problems when you see your friends, you don’t want to monopolize romance time with kids’ issues.

7. Think like a teammate. Acknowledge and play to each other’s strengths, and support each other being more versatile. If your partner is really weak with patience around homework, know that you have to pick up the slack; however, try to help him or her improve. Be there to step in when they’ve had enough and praise them for effort and whatever little successes they had. “Well, you got off to a great start … .”

8. Gift to children. Give your children the gift of watching you compromise and communicate effectively even when you have different perspectives. The most important job you have as a parent is positive role modeling. Take every opportunity to do it well.

9. Be polite. I don’t mean formal, but I do mean be respectful and have good etiquette. Just because you know your better half like the inside of an old sock, doesn’t mean you have to leave out “please” and “thank you.”

10. What children want. Most children want less parent conflict more than they want a better parenting decision; consider that before putting your armor on for battle.

Parenting tip: Co-parenting in even the best of relationships is highly challenging. Be willing to acknowledge and discuss this. Each parent should seriously consider their own role and try to see the other parent’s perspective. Most parents don’t disagree with the other parent just to cause conflict. There is often something of value to their position and perspective. Try to find what it is and consider it before reacting negatively.

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