Have You Set Goals For Your Co-Parenting?
Co-parenting will look different across families, but the basic tenets of respect and cooperation between co-parents will be immutable. But even with those tenets firmly in place, communication can still falter. Working sincerely and thoughtfully with your co-parent for the good of your children will be an ongoing endeavour. More marathon than sprint, your co-parenting will most likely require periodic reassessment.
People will approach their own communication in unique ways, their own styles perhaps conforming to how they approached parenting before their divorce or separation. However, old expectations and strategies can sometimes get in the way of improving co-parenting. If parents are stuck in a communication rut, careful and thorough brainstorming can help solidify expectations for co-parenting communication as well as identify areas that may need improvement.
We’ve created a worksheet to help parents take stock of the state of their co-parenting communication. Organized by topics that can frequently incite conflict, we’ve provided simple questions parents can ask themselves to begin to assess their communication strategies. Click this link to download the worksheet.
- Scheduling — Shared parenting time can be the greatest source of conflict between co-parents because it often requires the greatest adjustment after a divorce. When you’re used to seeing your children every day, transitioning to seeing them less frequently can cause emotions to run high. It’s not abnormal to go through some growing pains with regard to shared parenting time, but be honest with yourself when thinking about where you could improve.
- Communication — Divorce can do a number on parents’ communication. Transitioning from the often adversarial nature of divorce to cooperation-based co-parenting techniques can be a process plagued by frequent fits and starts. Don’t be ashamed if you can identify numerous areas for improvement. It’s to be expected, so just keep moving forward.
- Expense Planning — It’ll be important for parents to remove as much emotion as they can from their discussions of child-related expense reimbursements. Sometimes simply using the best tools for the job can ensure parents are putting their best feet forward.
- Decision Making — When communicating across two households, making sure both parents have access to the same information will be vital for any decision making. How are important documents shared in your family? Are situations that require collaboration between co-parents discussed well in advance or are they delayed?
Thoughtful brainstorming is only the first step to improving your co-parenting and will only be helpful if you are honest with yourself about your own behaviour. Identifying techniques and habits that are hurting your co-parenting doesn’t have to leave you mired in guilt. Instead, use those realizations as an opportunity and motivation to become better. Be sure to come back in the New Year for our Shared Parenting Improvement Game Plan worksheet, created to help you outline concrete steps you can take to achieve your goals.