by Brandy Abalos
o-parenting can be difficult, especially if the parents’ separation is contentious. However, children always suffer when their parents do not work together to parent them. They often feel torn and are unsure of themselves. There are some tactics that co-parents can use to develop a more beneficial situation for children who have two households.
Communicate With Each Other Effectively
Many relationships end because of poor communication. That makes developing effective communication patterns in a co-parenting situation even more challenging. However, co-parents must communicate effectively to help children adjust. They may speak face to face, over the phone, via email or text, depending on which method works best for them.
Document Everything That Could Lead to Legal Action
Child custody disputes are difficult to navigate. They often turn into a he-said-she-said argument that the court must sort out. Document everything that may lead to legal action to ensure the children get the best outcome possible. Good records include dates, times, content and witnesses to various situations. Documentation needs to be honest and help everyone remain accountable.
Maintain a Consistent Parenting Schedule
Children thrive with routine. They may become anxious if plans are canceled and rescheduled frequently. Co-parents need to work out schedules between themselves that are viable for everyone involved. If there are unavoidable conflicts, they should inform everyone, including their children, in advance so everyone can plan ahead. The more consistent the schedule is, the easier the co-parenting situation will be for the children.
Don’t Overreact to Small Things
Parents often tend to overreact to small things that surprise them. Doing so can cause friction between co-parents, which the children will pick up on. Parents should maintain an even temperament, even when their children’s other parent does something that irritates them. Children don’t need to know there is a problem, and it’s best not to communicate frustration toward their other parent in front of them.
Have Disputes in Private
Children, partners or other family members should not be involved in disputes between co-parents. No one will agree with everything their co-parent does. Their parenting styles may be very different. Address issues in private. When one parent refuses to compromise after multiple attempts to resolve an issue calmly, it maybe necessary to consult an attorney.
Don’t Put The Kids in the Middle
Many co-parents fight for their children’s approval. They want their children to think they do right and the other parent does wrong. This competition can make children anxious and cause conflict between co-parents. Don’t say negative things about the children’s other parent in front of them or try to sabotage the other parent with the kids. These actions can negatively affect a custody or visitation case.
Exchange Children Quickly and in a Friendly Manner
It’s best to drop off and pick the children up as quickly as possible. Being on time and having everything necessary prepared can make exchanges quicker and easier. Ideally, co-parents will be able to be friendly enough to one another during these times. They should avoid bringing a new partner or someone else who will cause more conflict and avoid discussing sensitive issues during exchanges.
Follow a Parenting Plan
Many parents create a parenting plan with their children’s best interests in mind. It should be easy for all parties to follow. Once both parents agree to the plan, they should follow it as often as possible. Any time one parent needs to deviate from it, both parties should document the adjusted agreement. If there are disputes, they can default to the time allocated in the parenting plan. Referring to a parenting plan reduces conflict and provides the children with consistency.
Co-Parents Should Do Whatever Possible to Make Their Children Feel Comfortable
Living in a split household can be difficult for many children. They may feel torn between their parents, especially if the co-parents don’t get along. It will be easier for everyone, especially the children, if co-parents work together in the children’s best interest at all times.