As divorce plans move forward, you and your ex must address the issue of co-parenting. In joint custody situations, it’s especially important to have an understanding with one another over the care and raising of your children together. Here are 6 of the most important “dos” and “don’ts” for co-parenting your kids.
1. DO have open lines of communication.
Good co-parenting begins with good communication. Each parent must respect the other’s rights to have a say in the children’s lives. Encourage open discussion and even disagreements, but look for the common ground.
2. DO put the children first.
Despite your disagreements with your ex, good co-parenting understands that you both want what’s best for your kids. This is your first and best piece of common ground, so focus on this point, especially in times of disagreement. When the children are your common priority, it becomes much easier to come to agreement concerning them.
3. DO establish consistent rules and boundaries across both households.
Your children need consistency and structure, especially if they are splitting their time between two households. If they can get away with things at Dad’s house that they can’t do at Mom’s house, it creates an imbalance and encourages playing one against the other. Agree on a consistent set of rules for the kids, and enforce those rules consistently in both homes.
4. DON’T sabotage your ex’s relationship with the children.
As much as you might hate your ex, you don’t have the right to project that hatred to the kids or to influence them to share your disdain. Avoid negative talk about your ex in front of the kids, and discourage them from doing the same. They deserve to have a chance at a good relationship with both parents; don’t jeopardize that for them.
5. DON’T fight in front of the kids.
Disagreements with your ex are inevitable, but don’t burden your children by hashing it out in front of them. Disagree with one another in private, but present a united front to the kids so they aren’t tempted to one parent against the other.
6. DON’T use the children as leverage.
Children are never to be used as pawns in your personal battle with your ex, and they can tell when they are being used as such. Avoid the temptation to manipulate your ex by threatening to withhold certain privileges where the children are concerned.