Once your parenting time schedule has been established, many parents find it difficult to co-parent their children. Co-parenting is a much different skill set than parenting as a married couple. It’s important to try to work together and show your children that you are still a united front in raising them.
As a parent, you don’t stop being a parent just because your marriage doesn’t work out. This is a huge transitional time in your child’s life, and they need your physical presence and mental support now more than ever before. But in order to co-parent successfully, you’ll need to learn how to compromise, adapt, and problem solve more than you may have in the past. To ensure this time is beneficial for your child, here are some successful strategies that will help you co-parent with ease.
Allow wiggle room
Just because you may have a co-parenting schedule set in place by a judge, doesn’t mean that you need to stick to it. There will be times where one parent will have an opportunity to take a child to do something special like a concert, a game, or visit a member of their family. If this happens, be flexible! Before making your decision, think about your child. Will they enjoy spending time with their other parent, and will they have fun? If so, be flexible and allow this freedom to change the schedule. Make sure the flexibility is working both ways though, one parent shouldn’t always be the one giving up their time if the same courtesy isn’t extended by the other parent.
Choose the best way to communicate with the other parent
Fostering an open dialogue is one of the keystones to a successful co-parenting experience. Whether it is speaking over the phone once a week for a check-in, shooting over a text message once in a while, or keeping everything solely to email, choosing what method is best for both of your communication styles will be incredibly beneficial down the road. From a legal perspective, text messages and emails are written documentation of the conversations that you are having. However, from a practical perspective, much of the tone of a conversation is lost in text or email. This can cause unnecessary fights between the parents. It’s important to find a good balance depending on the unique circumstances of your case.
Keep your distance
As a general rule, when your child is spending time with the other parent, keep your distance and don’t check in too often. Obviously, if you have legitimate concerns about your child’s well-being, it is more than appropriate to touch base with him or her. But this should be more than whether or not they are bored or being fed their favorite foods. You want to ensure they’re enjoying the time they have with their father or their mother, and consistently checking in will put a damper on that. Respecting the other parent’s schedule will go far in setting and establishing boundaries for years to come.
Whenever your child accomplishes something special like getting good grades or winning an award, make sure to include the other parent in the good news. The other parent will want to be just as included in your child’s daily life as you are, and extending this olive branch is a great way to ensure the same is done for you. Always let your child know you are sharing these details with their other parent so they know both parents are privy to what goes on in their daily life.
Don’t feel that you have to always be doing something fun when you have your child. Just because your time together is now limited doesn’t mean that you have to only do fun activities and always be on the go. Spend time together at home, watch a movie, and cook dinner together. Remember, you are a parent at the end of the day and if you only indulge your child in fun activities, they may start acting out against their other stricter parent.
With a little hard work and compromise, you will be able to create a very successful co-parenting plan. These strategies will help you co-parent with ease, making a happy and loving arrangement for your child.
Determining all the details of child custody can be a bit overwhelming for any parent going through a divorce. Our office focuses on Michigan family and divorce law. We are here to help navigate this time in your life, so don’t hesitate to contact us today with any and all of your child custody and parenting time/ visitation questions!