One of the best times to revisit your co-parenting arrangement is now, just before you children go back to school. Starting or returning to school can be stressful for children. It is especially important to maintain a harmonious relationship with your ex during this time. Reviewing and updating your co-parenting arrangement can make everyone's life much easier.
Benefits of co-parenting
According to the University of New Hampshire Family and Resources Department, children of divorce benefit when both parents agree to and comply with a co-parenting agreement. This is due to several reasons, including:
- Co-parented children feel more stable. Having two responsible, loving adults tend to their needs generates emotional stability and fosters the ability for children to develop their own healthy relationships.
- Co-parenting arrangements help children feel loved and cared for, rather than abandoned, when their parents separate.
- Co-parenting breeds a cooperative environment in which children don't have to feel torn between their parents. Divorce is difficult enough for children without having to field or listen to arguments between adults or divide loyalties.
- Co-parenting reduces or eliminates the possibility that children will be leaned on emotionally by one or both parents. When children feel the need to support a parent in this way, they may find themselves in a situation they're not emotionally or mentally equipped to handle.
Because co-parenting means maturely planning ahead, dividing responsibilities, and specifying boundaries in a documented parenting plan, there will be fewer arguments over day-to-day details and responsibilities.
Tips for co-parenting success
Successful co-parenting begins with a well-written parenting plan. Below are some tips for co-parenting before your children begin or return to school:
- Be proactive. You can avoid arguments and complications if you have a solid parenting plan in place.
- Your child's school and activity schedule may require one or both of you to take on more responsibility. You should know ahead of time exactly which responsibilities are yours - and then assume them.
- Homework. Your children absolutely must stay on top of their studies. Specific rules for school work, chores and activities should be worked out with your ex, without your child present, well before school starts - and complied with.
- Be nice. How you come across to your children's teachers or coaches affects how they view and even interact with your child. Don't act bitter or speak ill of your ex in front of them.
Co-parenting has been shown to be a good option for separating couples who can get along. Unless there is an abuse or safety issue, talk to your mediator or family law lawyer about developing or refreshing your co-parenting arrangement.