A picture of perfect co-parenting!
A recent article from Today highlights just how beneficial co-parenting can be when everyone gets involved. The article, titled “Separated Couple, New Spouses Win Co-Parenting at Daughter’s Soccer Game,” features two divorced parents, their respective new spouses and their four-year-old daughter, Maelyn. The feature photo shows all five family members wearing soccer jerseys with Maelyn’s number, and the adults’ shirts labeled “Step Mom,” “Daddy,” “Mommy,” and “Step Dad.”
According to the article, Maelyn’s mother had the jerseys made “to show their daughter that they are all, quite literally, on the same team.”
Building Stong Co-Parenting Bonds After Divorce
In addition to the soccer jerseys, Maelyn and her parents and stepparents have posted photos of the family dressed for Easter and wearing matching Christmas shirts. Each member of the family is committed to making their situation work for Maelyn’s benefit. In the words of her father, “You can learn how to put your differences aside and do what’s best for your kid… At the end of the day your kid is watching you, and we want to teach Maelyn to love other people.”
As portrayed by Today, Maelyn’s family appears to be setting the standard for how parents can make the best of their divorce. Co-parenting is not always going to be easy, especially in the early stages, but it will often be what is best for the child(ren) involved. Regardless of whether divorced parents eventually remarry or find new partners, a desire to do what is best for their children will often be the one thing they continue to have in common, and this is where effective co-parenting can come into play.
Even when divorcing spouses have no interest in maintaining a personal relationship with one another, there are still various tools and strategies they can use to make co-parenting a success.
What Exactly is Co-Parenting?
Co-parenting is a collaborative approach to raising a minor child after divorce. It can be contrasted with a more traditional custody and visitation arrangement, where the parents rarely (if ever) communicate and the child essentially lives a separate life with each parent. Studies and cases like Maelyn’s have shown that co-parenting can yield significant benefits, and in recent years it has become a central focus with regard to developing quality parenting plans during the divorce process.
Not all co-parenting arrangements need to be like Maelyn’s. In fact, even when divorcing spouses have no interest in maintaining a personal relationship with one another, there are still various tools and strategies they can use to make co-parenting a success. We have previously discussed some examples, including using technology to limit uncomfortable or potentially confrontational interactions.
Some additional tips for successful co-parenting include:
- Check Your Emotions at the Door. For co-parenting to work, parents need to be willing to work together with an open mind. No matter how you feel about your spouse or the outcome of your divorce when it comes to co-parenting, your children’s needs and emotional stability should always come first. Whether you are meeting with your co-parent in person or exchanging texts or emails, always remain polite and courteous; and, if you have a disagreement, focus on being constructive instead of critical.
- Focus on Improving Your Communications.Hastily-written emails can send the wrong message, and text messages will rarely convey the true intent behind the words being typed. When you are co-parenting – especially if you and your former spouse are not on the best terms – it can be well worthwhile to spend a few extra minutes honing your written communications. You may find that your former spouse follows suit, and this can reap huge benefits when it comes to going beyond routine scheduling and making basic decisions.
- Think Like a Team Member.As a co-parent, you are a member of your child’s parenting team. You are not the coach, and neither is your former spouse. Remember that you have the same goal in mind, and focus on working cooperatively instead of trying to take control or letting your co-parent take the lead.