Do’s and don’ts for healthy and effective co-parenting

Ending a marriage can be devastating for spouses, but even more so for their children. Having a healthy co-parenting relationship after divorce or separation means putting conflict aside in the best interests of your kids.

Achieving that goal will require a lot of patience, empathy and a commitment to open communication. Being on the same page won’t always be easy, but continued conflict can put your children at risk for increased developmental problems.

Actions that foster a positive co-parenting relationship

Taking a child-centered parenting approach helps keep many former spouses from dwelling on past areas of disagreement. They do this by:

  • Committing to open dialogue about their children
  • Adopting and enforcing consistent rules in both households
  • Speaking positively about the other parent in front of the kids
  • Setting behavioral guidelines and boundaries
  • Recognizing that co-parenting is challenging for both parents
  • Understanding that both parents have strengths and weaknesses
  • Keeping each other informed on all things, big or small, regarding their kids

Avoid these co-parenting pitfalls

When parents put their own interests ahead of their kids’ needs after divorce, life-long consequences can result. Here are some co-parenting “don’ts”:

  • Never trash talk the other parent in front of your child
  • Don’t think of your ex as the enemy
  • Don’t try to be the “cool” parent – boring is “good”
  • Don’t let guilt get the best of you
  • Don’t punish your ex by letting kids ignore the rules or avoid consequences
  • Don’t rush to judgment or accuse the other parent – talk to them

Focus on solving problems together

Divorce can be devastating, but in some cases, it’s a positive step. It’s crucial to remember that the process will have a different impact on your children, and finding ways to make the experience less painful for them can also have a beneficial effect on you and your former spouse.

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