8 Cardinal Rules of Co-Parenting
In order for co-parenting to succeed, there are some important rules that all co-parents should follow:
1. Do not use your child as a go-between. It's not fair to your child, and could damage parent-child relationships.
2. Do not discuss your feelings about the other parent with your child. It's not fair to put your feelings about your ex-spouse or significant other out in front of your children. If you need to vent, call a girlfriend - after the kids are in bed and out of earshot.
3. Always remember that your child needs time with both of you to grow up healthy and happy. Your child needs a relationship with both parents, and poisoning your child against your ex isn't going to make things any better for your child.
4. If possible, never argue in front of your child. Send them upstairs to play video games or go outside, but don't argue or curse at each other in front of the kids.
5. Be flexible whenever possible. You'll want your ex to work with you, so you have to be flexible when possible. If swapping weekends will work for you, then do it. Don't just be difficult to spite your ex.
6. Think of parenting time as benefiting your child, not you or the other parent. Your child wants time with both parents, and depriving your child of time with the other parent just because you're angry isn't fair.
7. Envision yourself and the other parent as a team. You may not be in love anymore, but you're still in charge of parenting your child together. Work together as a team and things will run much more smoothly.
8. If you are the residential parent, include the other parent as much as possible. If your child only sees the other parent once or twice a month, involve the other parent in as many activities as you can. Plan holidays and birthdays together, or plan time to spend together (platonically, of course).
Brette Sember is a former family law attorney and mediator. She is the author of numerous books on divorce and child custody, including The Divorce Organizer & Planner, No-Fight Divorce and How to Parent with Your Ex.
Updated August 2012