It’s very common in divorce or custody agreements to designate a single custodial parent. But even if you’re the non-custodial parent, that doesn’t mean you no longer have responsibilities to be there for your child. There are challenges you will face, but establishing a co-parenting relationship with your former partner will benefit everyone. You’ll discover you can have a good relationship with both your children and your ex. Here are a few ways to co-parent if you’re the non-custodial parent.
Avoid the Temptation to be the Fun Parent
If you only see your kids every other weekend, it’s easy to want to spoil them when you do. This not only traps you in a cliché made for TV movie plot, but it also sets a very bad example for your kids. It can also put your former partner in an awkward situation when your children act out at home.
You don’t need to entertain your child every hour of every day when they’re with you. Normal one on one time will be far more important in the long term.
Connect with Your Children Outside of Their Time with You
It may also be tempting to compartmentalize your time with your kids. You may focus on your current life when they’re not with you. But this can send the wrong message entirely. Your children may feel neglected and build resentment. Instead, make time to connect with your kids when they’re not at home with you.
For older children, especially when they have access to a smartphone, call them from time to time just to catch up. Make sure they’re comfortable reaching out to you when they have news to share, good or bad. For younger children, work out a deal to call your ex throughout the week specifically to talk to your kids.
Offer to Take the Kids at Other Times
Co-parenting, even when you’re the non-custodial parent, means that you’re available for your children even outside of your designated time with them. If your children need supervision because your former partner has an appointment or engagement, be the person who steps up to the plate.
Consistency is key when establishing a positive relationship with your children and your former partner. By being the one to be there, your children will never feel as if they’re the burden, and that’s the most important thing.
Consider Your Ex like A Business Partner
One way to view the experience of co-parenting is to view your ex as a business partner. Just because you are no longer in a romantic relationship doesn’t mean you can cut them out of your life. With your children, you need to present a united front and you will continue to have a cooperative relationship throughout their lives, even into adulthood.
Civility and courtesy should be the cornerstones of the new relationship. When there’s a disagreement, work hard on a compromise. And never fight in front of your children or put your children in the middle.
Share in Discipline
Your children also need strong adults in their lives to model positive behavior. They also need consistent discipline between both households, even if they spend more time in one than the other. Follow the same or similar rules between both homes so your children don’t pit you against one another as they push the boundaries.
Discipline of this nature needs to be coordinated with the custodial parent. If you’re in a position to discipline your child, your co-parent needs to be informed so they can proceed accordingly when the child returns to their home.