Donate Child Support Calculator
Skip navigation

Co-Parenting Ideas

Here are some ideas to help ensure that your child can continue to know the love and care of both parents.

Co-Parenting Strategies
By Annette Ney Meade

In the aftermath of a separation or divorce it may seem unthinkable to begin to build a new parenting relationship with an ex-spouse. But with effort, it can be done.

Here are steps you can take to help ensure that your child can continue to know the love and care of both parents.

Get down to business

Base your new relationship with your ex on basic business principles. The same principles that guide work relationships.

Maintain your privacy and offer minimum self-disclosure.

Act courteously, set explicit rules for relating, establish clear boundaries.

Six keys to successful co-parenting

1. How you feel about your ex is less important than how you act toward him/her. Putting aside your negative feelings is definitely in the best interest of your child.

2. Respect your need for privacy and the other parent's too. The only information that needs to be shared between co-parents is that pertaining to their children.

3. Each parents' time with the child is sacred. Don't make or change plans for the time your child is scheduled to spend with your ex. Honour the pre-arranged schedule.

4. Each parent has the right to develop his/her own parenting styles. As long as no harm is being done, let your ex-spouse relate to your child as he sees fit.

5. Acknowledge what your ex-spouse has to offer your child. Remember the qualities that first attracted you. Those qualities still exist and are available to your child.

6. Expect to feel awkward and uncomfortable about this new way of relating. But keep affirming your commitment to the new relationship and eventually your ex will begin to play by the same rules.

What to say, what not to say

1. Be clear about what you want.

   Don't say: "You're always late. Can't you pick up your son on time?"

   Try: "It seems to be difficult for you to get here at 3 on Sunday. I'd like you to be able to get here on time. Should we try a later pick-up time, like 5?"

2. Use "I" instead of "you" statements.

   Don't say "You never give the kids a bath when they are at your house."

   Try: "I often don't have time to bathe the kids of Sunday evening. It would help me if they got a bath before they came home."

3. Stay in the present. Don't bring up past failures when addressing an issue.

   Do say: "Do you plan to attend the children's parent-teacher conferences next week?"

   Leave off: "I know you've never managed to make it in the past."

Two homes are better than one

If you are the non-custodial parent, take steps to make your children feel at home when they visit you:

1. Make a place for your children in your new home.

2. Spend time alone with each child.

3. Encourage your children to have friends over.

4. Make your time together as normal and natural as possible.

5. Establish rules, routines and responsibilities for your children in your home.

6. Make a commitment to be actively involved in your child's life far beyond the time spent at your home, such as school activities and sports.

Spread the word

Don't put your child in the uncomfortable position of having to tell people about your divorce and parenting arrangements. Contact every person and institution who has anything to do with your child and explain your circumstances.

Make sure all pertinent records and directories contain up-to-date information about both parents.

Ask that all correspondence, reports, forms and calendars be sent to both parents.

Make sure the necessary people know that both parents are to be contacted in the event of an emergency.

Quick tip

Co-parents can formalise their arrangements with a parenting agreement. These are legal and encouraged under Australian law, but do not carry the same enforceability of court orders.

Sample parenting plan agreements area are included in the book 'Shared Parenting,' by Jill Burrett and Michael Green (Finch Publishing, Australia, 2006) or at the Shared Parenting Plans Forum of the Family Law Web Guide.

Sources: "The Divorced Parent: Successful Strategies for Raising Your Children After Separation" by Stephanie Martson (William Morrow & Co., $21); "Families Apart: Ten Keys to Successful Co-Parenting" by Melinda Blau (G.P. Putnam's Son's $22.94). Chicago Tribune, Feb., 1994; "Mom's House, Dad's House: Making Shared Custody Work," by Isolina Ricci (MacMillan Publishing Co., 1982).
1 guest and 0 members have just viewed this.

Recent Tweets