Cooperative parenting, or Co-Parenting, for the kids is a beautiful thing.
Unfortunately, most never achieve co-parenting.
Parents do not separate for painless reasons. This means that the co-parenting relationship starts out already strained from the beginning.
We must remember that although it affects our lives, our children’s lives are their own and they need support from both co-parents that they love.
Co-Parenting must start with a solely child centered, drama free adult only conversation. The # 1 thing to ask about anything in this conversation is, “Is this in our child’s best interest and does it benefit them?”
Questions that you need to discuss in this conversation are
What rules and values do you want to see at your house?
- This can include things like no running in the halls or jumping on the furniture. Also include things like; friend time and curfew.
What religion is going to be taught to the children?
- This can be tough for parents to discuss. First of All there is no right answer when it comes to religion and the choice will eventually be left up to the child. So if you can’t agree then consider teaching the child about both and don’t push mandatory belief in one over the other. That can just end up causing rebellion from both and then where does that leave your precious babe?
What time is bedtime going to happen on a school night and will this time change on other nights?
- Children need to know you two are still on the same team when it comes to them. This is a great way to give them consistency. You don’t want them to learn later that they can play you against each other.
Is there going to be a set nighttime routine or are you guys going to wing it?
- The younger the child the more important a routine at bedtime is. For example my 5 year old gets a bath at 8 in order to be dressed and brushed and ready for her bedtime story by 9. Give your routine enough time for a bit of play.
What extracurricular activities will your child be involved in?
- Often extracurricular activities can take up week day and weekend hours. This means that both parents will most likely be responsible for time at these activities. Avoid unnecessary arguments later by deciding ahead of time how much time to devote to these.
What age will special activities such as dating, wearing make-up and sleepovers be allowed?
- You don’t want to end up being the parent who is no fun nor do you want to just be the “fun” parent. Rules are important for young people to grow up and follow the new bigger rules of society and better yet to have respect for those rules.
What chores will be assigned to the children, will they get allowance for them and what are the punishments for breaking them?
- Responsibility is not an easy thing to teach at a young age but not getting started and definitely not having consistency is a terrible mistake. You don’t want your beautiful little baby to grow up and get into trouble or debt. Starting here will help teach them how to avoid later problems. For more information on making this step easier read here.
Who will chose and attend doctors, and dentist appointments?
- Keeping up on appointments can be a pain. If you can agree to aid each other here it will work out much better for both of you. Also discuss mental health issues here. Seems like there is a lot of debate among parents about therapy and the usefulness of medication to aid in these issues. Be sure to ask professionals, do the research and discuss your concerns in a well informed and respectful manner.
Will you be throwing the children’s birthday parties together or separately?
- This is a difficult question and if it causes too much tension then you should just agree to do them separate. After all the day is about the child and they need to know the 2 of you are getting along for them. If that can’t happen for a 3 hour party don’t attend together.
Productive co-parenting is hard to achieve but is possible.
Great benefits can be achieved. Parenting doesn’t have to be a solo journey. Many children grow up with only one parent. This shouldn’t have to be the case.
Parents need breaks from their little loves once in a while. Moms and Dads who don’t have family helping them can have a hard go of it finding this alone time. Co-parenting gives us this break and allows us to really enjoy the time we have with our kids.
Children shouldn’t be burdened with adult problems and with co-parenting comes blended families. This gives children a bigger group of people whom can love them and who they can love. Love is the best disease in the world and we should spread it around as much as possible.
Co-parenting also means that each person doesn’t have to deal with all the bad times which come with parenting. Half the sick days and half the punishments. As a result sharing these parenting responsibilities is a huge relief and keeps one of you from always being the bad guy.
Remember that our ultimate goals as parents are to make sure our children become happy, healthy well-rounded adults who have felt loved and heard so they can become productive members of society.
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If you want more information on how you can become a great co-parent I recommend reading these titles.