Co-parenting. You might have heard this term circulating recently, but what does co-parenting even mean? And more importantly, how do you know if it’s the right decision for you and your family? The word co-parenting first came to the spotlight when we learned that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner were separating but continuing to co-parent their children.
The basic idea behind co-parenting is to that you make the divorce easier on your children by continuing to live in the same house. For example, Ben Affleck lives in the guest house on their property. That way you and your ex-husband are separate, but continuing to raise the kids in the same environment. Another example is continuing to keep the kids permanently in the same house, but switching out with your husband every couple of weeks. That way the kids don’t have to suffer the consequences of traveling back and forth after a painful divorce.
In theory, this might sound like a great idea, but can it work? What should you be prepared for if you decide to co-parent your kids after your divorce?
Set Household Rules That Both Parties Agree On
Make sure that you and your ex have the same rules and expectations for your kids. This means that if something is not tolerated when mom is at home, it shouldn’t be tolerated when dad is at home. This will help your kids to have a sense of structure, and also not be able to play the system.
Not only with your time and the times you will be able to see your kids, but with your fellow co-parent. Even though it could be better for your children, there might still be very real wounds between you and your ex. You have to realize that co-parenting is something that is going to stretch you to your limit. Try to be flexible when you can to avoid a meltdown.
Agree On Punishments
You don’t want one co-parent to be going easier or harder on a child. That is going to create the dreaded good cop, bad cop scenario. It will also give your kids a chance to frequently test your boundaries.
Even though you don’t want to see your ex more than you need to, you need to be openly communicating with him. If problems are going on with your child, great accomplishments, or anything important, you should discuss it or share it with him. Make sure that you have an open door policy so that you don’t miss important moments or challenges with your kids.
Keep It Short And Sweet
Yes, you will be communicating with your ex, but that doesn’t mean it needs to an hour long conversation. It will not be healthy for either of you if you are spending excessive time together. Be careful to just keep conversations short and sweet, and about your children. If you are on the other end of the extreme, try to keep it short to avoid getting sassy or angry.
Encourage Your Children
By this, I mean that you should encourage your children in spending time with their Dad. Respect the time they share with him. And, never insult their father in front of them; save that stuff for your family members or best friends.
Take Advantage Of The Time Off
Now that you are a single mom, you’re going to have some time to yourself when the kids are with their dad. Try to find something fun to do with that time, like joining a gym, a club, or putting yourself back on the dating scene.
If something is troubling you about how your fellow co-parent is co-parenting, be open with him about it. Don’t hold it inside and start to make snide comments about it.
It can be easy to let guilt make a nest in your heart even as you co-parent. Just because you are trying to make a more stable life for your kids, doesn’t mean you won’t still have to deal with behavioral issues or other problems that are an outcome of a divorce in families. But don’t let the other seemingly “perfect” families around you allow you to feel ashamed. You are doing a fantastic service to your kids. And no one ever has it as together as they appear.
We hope that these tips can help you to see what it might look like if you are considering co-parenting with your ex-spouse. If you are a current co-parent and have more tips, feel free to comment them below!
For more parenting tips check out this article!