How to Co-Parent Successfully When You Are Separated or Divorced

How to Co-Parent Successfully When You Are Separated or Divorced

Here’s how to develop a solid co-parenting plan you both will follow and that everyone can enjoy.

If you’re separated or divorced, you know how important it is to make a plan for sharing time with your child. However, this isn’t always easy, and can lead to frustration or even anger when schedules don’t match, kids feel like a go-between, or parents play good-cop, bad-cop. Luckily, we’ve talked to experts and fellow parents to get their strategies on how to deal, so you can focus on spending as much time with your kids as possible. Here are eight tips to develop—and agree on—a plan to co-parent successfully.

Consider everyone’s schedules. If a father leaves for work at 6am and doesn’t come home until 7pm, his schedule could make shared parenting hard, says Tanya Helfand, a divorced mom, lawyer in New York City, and author of 20 Great Tips for a Successful Divorce. “In this case, it’s important for his ex-partner to allow him to have a nanny so he can get to work,” she suggests.

Keep it consistent. A set schedule is key for fostering stability, says Emily Stulman Klein, a divorced life strategist and mom of a 12-year-old daughter who lives in Montclair, NJ.

Put yourself in your kids’ shoes. Children should have an open relationship with both parents—and never feel like the go-betweens. “A major problem arises when the parents prevent that relationship from happening and then put the children in the middle,” Helfand says.

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Be practical and precise. Leave the emotion out of discussions and decisions as much as possible. “I also suggest that communication between the parties be in a written form,” says Steven J. Mandel, a family law attorney in NYC.

Skip the good-cop, bad-cop scenario. It’s very common for kids to play the “mommy vs. daddy” game. “That is why it is in the best interests of all concerned for everyone to be on the same page,” Mandel says.

Make kids feel treasured. Kids should feel like both parents are choosing to spend time with them. “We use the words who ‘gets to’ be with [our daughter] rather than who ‘has to’ be with her.” Klein says.

Be accommodating. Life happens and sometimes you will need to swap times. Do your best to always be gracious about it.

Remember: You will be in each other’s lives—for life. “Just because it didn’t work out for us doesn’t mean we have to be mean,” Klein says. “The happier we are individually, the happier we all are as co-parents.”

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