Shared Horizons – What is Co-Parenting?

By Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC

As a therapist I am often asked questions about parenting and parenting styles. Amid the shifting core of contemporary family structures co-parenting has become an exceedingly topical subject. Co-parenting, sometimes referred to as shared parenting, is the practice of raising children as a single parent when divorce or separation occurs. This can be a difficult process for parents and children, but it is not an impossible task and, in fact, may have its own rewards. Below are some brief tips that will help when it comes to co-parenting. Although everyone will find his/her situation somewhat different, there are basic generalities when it comes to shared parenting.

  1. RESPECT each other like mature adults. Do not talk negatively, or allow other adults to talk negatively, about the other parent, their family and friends or their home in hearing range of the child.
  2. Your child is not a spy. DO NOT question the children about the other parent or the activities of the other parent regarding their personal lives.
  3. DO NOT make promises to the children to try and win them over at the cost of the other parent. Trips and elaborate gifts should not be used as weapons against the other parent.
  4. COMMUNICATION. Communication. Communication. Communicate with the other parent and make similar rules in reference to discipline, bedtime routines, sleeping arrangements, and other schedules.
  5. It’s not about you. At all times, the decision made by you and your Ex should be for the child’s psychological, spiritual, and physical well-being and safety.
  6. DO NOT ask the child where they want to live. Additionally, visitation arrangements should be made and confirmed beforehand between the parents without involving the child in order to avoid any false hopes, disappointments or resentments toward the other parent.
  7. ALWAYS notify the other parent in a timely fashion of the need to deviate from the order, including cancelling visits, rescheduling appointments, and promptness.
  8. Both parents should WORK TOGETHER to allow the child to be involved in extracurricular activities and both parents should make every attempt to attend these activities together.
  9. INFORM the other parent of any change to scholastic, medical, extracurricular activities or appointments for the child.
  10. Keep the other parent well informed of your address and telephone number and your whereabouts.

Co-parenting means doing the right thing for your children. Always be ready to compromise and communicate with respect and civility.

If you are experiencing difficulty with co-parenting or are having a conflict in your relationship due to divorce or separation, please feel free to contact me (email: info@donlaird.com) to schedule a confidential appointment.