Co-parenting is the shared responsibility for raising your children even after you and your partner have split up. This experience is very beneficial for children who don’t see their parents as adversaries. They learn essential life skills, like cooperation, that will carry them through their development well into adulthood. For the parents, one of the most important aspects of this arrangement is consistency. Your children will thrive knowing there are shared expectations of them regardless of which parent they’re spending time with. Here’s a closer look at how that can work.
Establish Compatible Household Rules
You don’t have to have the household rules be exactly the same, but you and your former partner should discuss some of the basics. Specifically, you need to establish rules in each household that are compatible and age-appropriate.
Rules around homework, the curfew, and behaviors that are off-limits should be generally the same for each household so the children aren’t confused or conflicted when traveling between the homes.
Follow Similar Discipline Styles
It’s also important to create cooperative disciplinary styles. Children of all ages should expect that if they break the rules in either home, they will face similar consequences. This will prevent children from trying to test the boundaries of each parent.
As always, the discipline should be age-appropriate and effective for their behavior. And be sure to enforce good behavior with positive reinforcements as well.
Make Schedules Consistent
Similar household schedules can also go a long way for children to adjust to the new normal of separated parents. Meals should be handled at about the same time, bedtimes should be consistent, and homework needs to be completed.
Sometimes, one parent tries to make up for something they feel is missing by giving children the reward of staying up late or eating treats throughout the day. This can create a lot of confusion when they return to the home of the primary caretaker.
Collaborate on Important Decisions
There will be many occasions as your children are growing when important decisions need to be made. These decisions could impact the health and wellbeing of your children, so they must be made thoughtfully and collaboratively.
You and your former partner are still both the parents of the children, so you’ll need to find the common ground.
Learn How to Handle Disagreements
There will come a time when you and your former partner disagree about something related to your children. When that happens, it’s important to learn how to handle the disagreements in the most constructive way. Never put your children in the middle.
Do not make the disagreement personal and if you need to, talk to a neutral third party, such as a therapist, together
Be Willing to Compromise
When co-parenting, compromise may be one of the most critical skills you can learn. There will be plenty of times you’ll have to consider things from the other point of view. And you may not always get the exact results you were expecting.
Flexibility and compromise will put the children’s needs first and their wellbeing is the most important thing.