Whether you are considering divorce or in the process, you need to think about how you and your partner/spouse will both parent your children. Unless your partner is unavailable or totally incapacitated, for any reason, you are in it together. There are choices to be made.
Decide between you so no one else gets to mandate your parenting role, the most important job in your life.
- Do you have similar parenting philosophies and styles?
- Can you both work through different opinions?
- Is there flexibility for the children’s benefit?
- Is your communication reasonably good?
- Do you trust each other’s parenting?
- Can you both put the children before your own feelings?
If you can answer affirmatively on the above, than you are ready for cooperative coc-parenting. It is the best way for your children to flourish. They learn that, although you do not want to be with each other any more, you are able to work together for their sake. You will be good role models and add to your children’s sense of security and well-being.
- Do you both have very different parenting styles?
- Do you feel very strongly that you are usually right?
- Is it hard to communicate without arguing, name-calling, etc?
- Are the children ‘stuck’ between parents?
- Are stalemates your norm with each other?
- You both want to have relationship with your children.
If your answers are ‘yes’ to the above, than cooperative co-parenting is not going to work for you at this time [though, hopefully, that would change]. Parallel parenting is recommended in such situations. When there is high conflict, parental contact needs to be minimized. Your Parenting Plan would be more detailed so all (you and the children) know what to expect…a rigid schedule, no last minute changes and no direct parental contact. Communication needs to be through texting, e-mail or notes, with just the facts, no emotion. Think of it as a business message. You all lose flexibility but gain peace of mind if parental contact is discordant.
If cooperative co-parenting is your choice, congratulate yourselves and keep it going!
If you are not able to co-parent in a cooperative manner, please make it a goal!
Sharon Klempner, MSW, LCSW, BCD