This is Part 2 in our series on co-parenting, here are some specific tips that will help you and your spouse be effective in your co-parenting experience:
1. Create a parenting plan-and follow it. Mediators and conflict management coaches can help you create a mutually beneficial plan. Be sure to include medical care, education, financial issues, how and when to resolve problems or differences, and practical issues such as handling transitions between households. Having a plan like this helps create structures and guidelines for communication and resolution.
2. RESPECT-This is fundamental to a successful co-parenting relationship. Treat your spouse with respect, talk to them and about them with respectful behavior and respectful language at all times, whether in mediation, private conversations, or in front of the kids. Respect the other spouse’s parenting style, which may be different from yours, as long as what they do is not generally considered risky or bad.
3. Breathe and use peace building techniques for body and mind. The more we can detach from our immediate reactions, the better we can respond instead with detachment and clarity.
4. Stay focused on kids’ needs. Your relationship with you ex now needs to focus on the children and what they need, not on your needs or the past you shared with your spouse.
5. Be consistent. Work out disagreements about the children privately, so you are consistent with each other and with the children.
6. You’re a parent for life. Remember your couple relationship may be over, but you are in this together as co-parents for the long haul. Even after custody is no longer an issue, there will be college expenses and graduations, marriages, grandchildren, etc. Learning and practicing skills now to manage this post-marriage relationship, will help forever. This is the root lesson of the renowned Liaise Divorce Solutions Marital Reorganization concept.
7. Get help. It is not easy to do all this and we don’t learn how in school. Get help from conflict management coaches or counselors. Learn how to deal with feelings and heal grief, resentment, let go of anger and blame, strategize effective communication approaches and practice positive conflict resolution skills. If you can’t resolve disagreements yourselves, get more mediation.
You and your children deserve the best life possible post-divorce. Learning and practicing effective co-parenting will make a big, positive difference.
Lorraine Segal, MA was a community college professor for many years, before finding her true passion for helping people communicate better. Now, she has her own Sonoma County ( Santa Rosa) based conflict management coaching, mediation, and training, business, Conflict Remedy. She works with parents and teens, couples, individuals and organizations to improve communication and resolve conflict. She also teaches in the Conflict Resolution program at Sonoma State University and offers workshops and trainings on bullying issues for schools and other organizations.
David D. Stein has been an attorney for 20 years and the founder of Liaise® Divorce Solutions. He is a trained mediator, dispute resolution specialist and lecturer on non-violent conflict management techniques and tools.