“Co-parenting” is a term used to describe the parenting process when parents have either separated or divorced.

The truth is, though, co-parenting occurs not only in that situation but when parents live together as well.

When you stop to think about it, co-parenting just means that parents are parenting together in a cooperative manner.

There are some distinct differences in the parenting process when parents live under one roof as opposed to when they do not. Thus making the dynamics of the parenting process different depending on the given situation, especially if you are divorced or together.

For co-parenting to be done successfully some things must be kept in mind. These things are real, whether you are together or apart. If you’re divorced or separated, you will have to make a more conscious effort at being successful co-parents, as you will have to put your feelings and emotions towards your ex aside. Specifically the feelings, and circumstances that caused you to split in the first place.

Successful co-parenting consists of the following:

– Accepting that you and your co-parenting partner have different parenting styles.
– Accepting that there is more than one way to achieve a common goal.
– Focusing on the outcome you desire with your child, rather than the method used to get there.
– Supporting each other in the parenting process. This is something that is very important, especially when you’re not physically there to back one another up on a daily basis. It is important to support each other regardless if you agree with the methods of parenting used by your co-parenting partner.
– Always speaking kindly of your co-parent partner, especially in front of your child.
– Being supportive of who they are, do not criticize or judge. Remember your co-parenting partner, is your child’s mother or father. Your child has an allegiance to both of you, and should not feel like they have to choose or be put in the middle of your adult issues.
– Always putting the needs and best interest of your child before your feelings towards your co-parenting partner.
– Reminding your child that although you no longer live together, you will always be their parents and you will always support your them. You will always remain a family regardless of your physical proximity to one another.

Effective co-parenting does not allow your child to take responsibility for your divorce or separation. Often children will think that if they had only behaved better, their parents could have figured out how to stop fighting, and would still be together. If you ever hear your child say these things or suspect that their behavior may be occurring because of feeling this way, is your responsibility to stop this kind of thinking in its tracks.

Parenting is a 24/7 lifelong commitment. Even as adults, your children will need you. This commitment does not end, should your marriage dissolve and no longer be a lifelong commitment.

Remember that our children learn more from what we do than what we say. They are constantly watching you and learning how to react and respond to situations that they witness. Watching how you negotiate with their mother or father, they are going to learn not only how to be a parent effectively, but how to relate to others. They will find out how to negotiate a productive relationship with someone even if they do not entirely agree with them. This will not only help them in their future romantic relationships, but I’m navigating many relationships throughout their life.

Nobody is a perfect parent. In fact, there is no such thing as perfect! Celebrate progress. Progress comes through practice. Parenting with good intentions will not “screw your child up for life.” Your best is good enough with one caveat in this situation. Do not judge or criticize your co-parenting partner. Be supportive and back them up. It will make a HUGE difference.