Co-parenting is a complex path for parents to walk as they are raising children between two households. Over the next few weeks, we will be doing a five-part series on co-parenting that will cover the topics of stability, meetings, holidays, & handoffs, risks & struggles for children, and dating, remarriage & beyond. In this first post we will cover some basics, but make sure to come back as we cover the above topics.
Communication is Key. One of the biggest pieces of the co-parenting journey is communication, most importantly, ongoing communication. It can be exhausting and difficult because you’re dealing with someone that you couldn’t stay married to, or in a relationship with. There may be pain and possibly some anger and unforgiveness. Communication is easy to define, but it’s not easy to do. However, communication is very necessary for a successful journey of co-parenting. It’s important for you and even more, it’s important for the well-being of your child.
Decision Making. Another aspect of co-parenting is the ongoing joint decision-making when it comes to your children’s needs and interests. Parents can do this in various ways. Sometimes there’s one parent that makes all the decisions. Other times, parents jointly agree on decisions. There’s not a one size fits all answer for how to make decisions. Decisions will be ongoing and may vary in complexity depending on the subject matter, but one thing is certain… decision-making can be a lot smoother and easier when successful communication is present.
Sharing Responsibilities. The third aspect of co-parenting is the actual sharing of time with your child or children. You must coordinate the logistical things such as handoffs, schedules, sharing of time, etc. This might sound easy, but it can be hard to work out all those logistics and details. Aside from the simple disruptions and frustrations of life, you’re also dealing with emotions related to the reason you are no longer with the other parent. It’s critical that you do not let those feelings stop your child from being with the other parent. It’s important for children to have both parents present when possible.
Healthy Co-parenting. Being healthy co-parents can be challenging. It is important to understand that your children belong in both places. Healthy co-parenting is really based on being able to separate what’s personal from what’s parental. Co-parenting doesn’t involve you getting your emotional needs met by your ex-partner, it is about taking care of your child’s needs. It is also about being concerned for the future, and not getting hung up on the past. Successful co-parenting is not history driven, it is future-focused.
As you work to co-parent, you must be sensitive and compassionate toward your child. You have to look at life through the eyes of your child and see how much it has changed for them. Being compassionate doesn’t mean you become permissive in your parenting, it just means that you’re empathetic with what they’re experiencing and what they’re going through. You can all do this together, there is hope!
At Options Health, we have a wonderful program to help women as they navigate motherhood and parenting. Earn While You Learn (EWYL) is a free program that provides education, emotional support, and material resources to expectant mothers through the toddler years of their baby’s life. Once enrolled in EWYL, you will be connected with a mentor to guide you through an amazing curriculum of parenting classes where you earn credits to be spent in our Care Closet; where you can get diapers, wipes, baby clothes, baby furniture, and more!
Are you a father? If so, we have an awesome program for you too! FIT (Fathers In Training) is a free program that will challenge you to be the best father you can be by walking alongside you through our skill-building fatherhood classes and mentorship.
If you are interested in either of these free programs, please contact us today!
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