How to co-parent effectively in 2023
- AuthorJoanne Harriman
Whenever you separate from a partner, and you share children, there is inevitably going to be an impact on those children as you settle into your new parenting roles. However, if you can minimise the conflict between the adults as much as possible, this will allow the children to transition into that role more easily.
Families, now more than ever, are made up of many different blends and the key to their success is providing stability and structure. The three most important ‘tips’ to help this stability and structure are:
Communication openly with the children
Focus on compromise
Avoid talking negatively about the other parent
If you can try to implement all of the above, you should find an easier transition to co-parenting, without comparison drawn from what others do or what works within other families.
Are there any courses available for co-parenting?
There are several different courses which can focus on a variety of different issues, provided by Cafcass and other independent agencies. These classes may focus on:
Conflict within separation
Children are statistically less likely to suffer anxiety and depression where their parents are low-conflict co-parenting.
Why should I co-parent effectively?
Healthy co-parenting allows parents to recognise that they may not always parent in the same way, but fundamentally their child/ren are at the heart of all their choices. Derogatory language, aggression and parental alienation are all manipulative tools designed to break down the other parent and/or their relationship with the child/ren. If you can work towards a goal of being able to attend school, health, and extra-curricular events together, the children will feel less detrimental impacts from having separated parents.
Try to model management of emotions in a healthy and personal way, creating avenues for communication and positive decision-making.
How easy is it to get it wrong?
Co-parenting of an inappropriate style can quickly become an issue, with parents controlling the other or controlling the time spent with a child, manipulating the children to become the favourite parent, and attempting to control or manipulate parenting styles and new relationships.
The best and most appropriate way to co-parent well, is to set boundaries. These boundaries should be clear and non-negotiable for you, putting the children at the centre and focusing on what is in their best interest.
If you wish to consider a parenting plan, this can be drawn up in advance of Court and allows those boundaries to be clearly marked out. If the other parent goes against them, you could then consider issuing an application. Remember, co-parenting is decision-making of a child-centred nature – try to love your child/ren more than you hate your ex-partner.
How best can I approach this when things haven’t always gone well?
You both separated for a reason but it may be that things weren’t always focused on the reasons for that separation. If you can recall any more positive times or focus on the offspring you made together, this will stand you in good stead for being able to approach things clearly and with as little trauma as possible. If that fails, treat the relationship like a business like an arrangement.
Even mid-argument, try to re-focus on communicating as a team.
Make every effort to be flexible.
Be accessible and fair – this does not have to mean equal.
Don’t try to engage the children in having to make difficult parenting decisions.
Don’t dismiss birthdays or events of importance to the other parent.
Access support via whichever channel feels appropriate (friend, GP, charity).
Does one size of co-parenting and contact fit all families?
Every single family is different, as is every family member. Therefore, try to remember to prioritise the needs of the child/ren and limit your own needs from entering the equation. You could trial a number of different routines before finding one that fits but always remember, the priority is to focus on what is beneficial to the children.
Biweekly – one week with each parent;
Biweekly 2-2-3 – two days with parent A, two with parent B and then three with parent A, swapping each week;
Alternating – alternating days back-to-back or a few at a time;
Weekends – children spend each/alternate weekends with one or both parents;
Supervised – where you and/or children services have concerns of a safeguarding or welfare nature
Indirect – cards, gifts and other items sent to the child/ren.
Keep a calendar, implement boundaries, and trial a progressive attempt to act in the child/ren’s best interests.
If you have any further queries on this matter, please do not hesitate to get in contact with a member of our supportive family team.