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Co-Parenting 101: Begin With Respect

It is essential to create a working relationship focused on the optimum care and concern for your children.

Basil and Spice
7 February 2010

Basil and Spice - Love and Relationships

Co-Parenting 101: Begin With Respect
By Rosalind Sedacca

Divorce doesn't end your co-parenting relationship with your former spouse. It only changes some of the form. It is still essential to create a working relationship focused on the optimum care and concern for your children. Every co-parenting relationship will be unique, affected by your post-divorce family dynamics. However, there are guidelines that will enhance the results for children in any family. Here are some crucial points to keep in mind to maximize your co-parenting success.

Respect your co-parent's boundaries:

Chances are your former spouse has a different parenting style than you, with some conflicting rules. Rather than stress yourself about these differences, learn to accept that life is never consistent and it may actually be beneficial for your kids to experience other ways of doing things. Step back from micro-managing your co-parent's life. If the kids aren't in harm's way, let go and focus on only the most serious issues before you take a stand.

Create routine co-parent check-ins:

The more co-parents communicate with one another about the children, the less likely for small issues to grow into major problems. Select days/times for phone, email or in-person visits. Discuss in advance visitation transfer agreements. List who's responsible for what each day, week or month. Food, homework, curfews, health issues, allowances, school transportation, sport activities, play dates, holiday plans and more should be clearly agreed upon, when possible - or scheduled for further discussion. Once you have a clear parenting plan structured - follow it to the best of your ability. But allow for last-minute changes and special "favors" to facilitate cooperation.

Encourage your child's co-parent relationship:

Regardless of your personal feelings about your ex, your children need a healthy connection with their other parent. Keep snide comments to yourself and don't discuss your parenting frustrations with your children. Encourage your kids to maintain a caring, respectful relationship with their other parent. Remind them about Mom or Dad's birthday and holiday gifts. Make time in the weekly schedule for phone calls, cards, email and letters to keep the children's connection alive when your co-parent is at a distance. Your children will thank you when they grow up.

Be compassionate with your in-laws:

Remember that a grandparent's love doesn't stop after divorce. If your children had a healthy bond with your former spouse's extended family, don't punish them by severing that connection. Children thrive on family attachments, holiday get-togethers and traditions they've come to love. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins can be a great source of comfort to children during stressful times and a sense of continuity with the past. Dissolving those relationships is hurtful to both your children and the other family. Think long and hard before making such an emotionally damaging decision.

Above all, be flexible:

When you allow calls from your co-parent when the kids are in your home, they will be more receptive to your calls when the tables are turned. Remember, you are still a parenting team working on behalf of your children. That commonality should enable you to overlook the thorns in your co-parenting relationship and focus on the flowering buds that are the children you are raising.

Recognized as The Voice of Child-Centered Divorce, Rosalind Sedacca is a Certified Corporate Trainer and founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network for parents facing, moving through or transitioning beyond divorce. For free articles, free ezine and other valuable resources for parents, visit: http://www.childcentereddivorce.com/. In particular, for separation-related articles see http://www.howdoitellthekids.com/interactive/articles.html.
Thanks for this info, it was excellent. It reminded me of a comment I found when I was reading through some recent judgements, Judge Faulks said:
Faulks J said
The focus is the best interests of the children, not the perceived rights of the parents.

I urge both parents to accept this is a difficult time for the children and one in which tolerance on the part of both parents is required.

This is not about the rights of the parents, it is about the rights of the children and while I am not suggesting for a moment that either of you would seek to put your own so-called rights ahead of the rights of the children, this is a matter in which there is to be an exquisite balance between what is good for the children and what is good for you individually.

It is not going to be an easy task for either of you and it is going to require patience and a great deal of love for the children.I hope that both of you have that love and you love your children more than you hate each other.

Sometimes that is a more difficult task than it seems.
Source of quote: Palentine & Palentine (2009) FamCA 1081 (15 October 2009)

I loved it; just wanted to share!

Attachment
Palentine & Palentine (2009) FamCA 1081 (15 October 2009)
This is good where both parents are focussed on the child, but if they aren't how do we get both parents onto the same page.

Isn't that why the courts are doing such "booming" business, because of the failure of at least one (if not both) parents to co-parent.
andykay said
Isn't that why the courts are doing such "booming" business,
  Not such a 'booming' business any more. Applications are down 22% since the Amended Act was introduced.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 

Conflict and Co-operation

andykay said
This is good where both parents are focussed on the child, but if they aren't how do we get both parents onto the same page.

Isn't that why the courts are doing such "booming" business, because of the failure of at least one (if not both) parents to co-parent.
If one, or both, parents do not want to be on "the same page", it can be difficult to impossible to get them to work together.

This information cannot apply in such cases.

It is disappointing that sometimes one parent will place herself above the best interests and needs of the children.

In such cases, she promotes and uses conflict as a strategy, tactic and tool designed to advantage her - not the children - in negotiations and court proceedings.
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