Approximately 32% of children in the U.S. lived with an unmarried parent as of 2017, states the Pew Research Center, and your children may fall into this category. If you and your former spouse co-parent, your children may spend time at two different households.
Co-parenting is beneficial for many children following the divorce process. However, for your children to benefit from this type of arrangement, you must consciously work on solidifying a successful co-parenting plan by following certain guidelines.
- Decide on consistent rules for both households
Children thrive on structure and routine. You can enhance the success of your co-parenting relationship by developing standards that remain the same at both households for completing chores, mealtime, bedtime and school work.
- Commit to open communication
Talk to your former spouse about how you will communicate about your children. You can do this over text, email, letters or face-to-face conversation, depending on what works best for your relationship. You should also make sure you provide the other parent with regular updates about your children relating to their schoolwork, any medical treatment received and extracurricular activities when they are with you.
- Create a plan for extended family
Talk to your co-parenting partner about the role extended family members will play in the lives of your children. You should also determine what type of access these family members will receive when each parent is in charge.
- Do ordinary activities
You may feel pressure to do as many exciting activities as possible with your children when they are with you. However, your children should have the opportunity to do ordinary activities with you, so they do not start to favor one parent over the other.
Successful co-parenting requires ongoing patience, empathy and open lines of communication. If you and your former spouse both focus on your children, co-parenting is much more likely to become effective for everyone involved.