10 Basic Guidelines for CoParenting

10 Basic CoParenting Guidelines

Clear CoParenting Guidelines in concrete form for a hopeful, less challenging, and accountable  Co-Parenting Process.

1. PUT YOUR CHILD FIRST

CONSCIOUSLY make a choice to feel your love for your child more frequently and more deeply than you feel anger, dislike, or distrust for the other parent. This coparenting guideline will also make you happier!

2. FOR SUCCESSFUL COPARENTING CREATE A CLIMATE OF COURTESY TO SURROUND ALL OF THE INTERACTIONS YOU HAVE WITH THE OTHER PARENT IN FRONT OF YOUR CHILD.

Make sure other friends, teachers, and relatives who interact with the other parent on your behalf are also interacting within a climate of courtesy.

3. INTEND AND FOLLOW THROUGH WITH MAKING YOUR CHILD’S TRANSITION TO BEING WITH THE OTHER PARENT AS EASY AND NATURAL FOR THEM AS POSSIBLE.

This coparenting guideline relates to the guideline below about making transitions organized and on time.  However, this coparenting guideline is slightly different in that the focus is upon making the transition emotionally easy.

 

4. WHEN YOUR CHILD IS WITH YOU TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY OF THEM.

Yes, there are two of you with this awesome coparenting  responsibility.  However, for your child to be and feel well and safe you must make the full responsibility yours while you are exercising your parenting time.  Adjustments can be made financially or for the future when the time has safely passed.  This guideline refers not only to their physical health but also their emotional health and safety.  Taking full responsibility for your child’s conduct when they are being parented by you is also important. 

5.  KNOWING YOU WILL NOT BE PARENTING YOUR CHILD FULL TIME, MAKE AN EFFORT TO BE AS ATTENTIVE TO THEM AS POSSIBLE DURING YOUR PARENTING TIME AND TRY TO SAVE ADULT SOCIALIZING AND DISCRETIONARY ACTIVITIES FOR WHEN YOUR CHILD IS WITH THE OTHER PARENT.

Even if you follow these basic coparenting guidelines, it is not easy to have your children fully to yourself, single parenting, and it is also not easy to be without them.  Creating kid friendly social activities with other kids and parents during your week with your child can help with the awesome responsibility and feelings of overwhelm that may arise when you have your children to your self. Being a little busier with work commitments and taking care of your physical and mental health as well as having time for adult friendships on your weeks without your child will minimize the loneliness and worry that can arise when your children are not with you.  Many parents have shared with me that this strategy has left them feeling a real sense purpose and motivation on their off weeks.

6. DO NOT GIVE YOUR CHILD THE ROLE OF MESSENGER OR PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR.

Parenting and adult communication should be between parents. Children should not be given the responsibility to carry messages between parents.  This can lead to the child and the other parent confusing the message with the messenger.  Further, your child has enough to remember for themselves living between two homes.  Use email to communicate with the other parent.  Stick to the issues and be clear and concise. 

 

7.  TO HELP YOURSELF AND YOUR CHILD TRY TO DO ALL THAT YOU CAN TO HAVE BOTH HOMES NEAR YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL, FRIENDS, AND ACTIVITIES.

 

8. KEEP TRANSFERS BETWEEN HOMES ORGANIZED AND PUNCTUAL.

Children worry about being late.  This coparenting guideline can seem impossible at times, particularly the staying organized part. To stay on time and organized keep a shared family calendar online and on the wall of your home for the children to review. The family calendar should note not only days with each parent but school and other activities and practices as well as deadlines for projects.  Try to have necessities in duplicate at both homes. Schools will usually provide two sets of text books so that children do not need to carry texts between homes.  Maintain a notebook the children can keep with their items to transfer between homes which may include lists of things to remember to bring to each home.  Prepare your child’s things for transfer with them and give them a sense of control over the process. 

 

9.  STAY IN CONTACT WITH YOUR CHILD WHILE THEY ARE WITH THE OTHER PARENT. 

This can be a delicate issue.  You will want to try to designate a time and manner for communicating each day.  Both parents should facilitate communication between the child and the other parent.  However, too much communication when your child is with the other parent may keep them from being fully and naturally engaged in their own experience. A child should not have to feel you are keeping tabs on them because you are fearful for their safety or their relationship with the other parent.  Communication with your child should not be used to spy or find evidence against the other parent nor should parents say things to children to make them feel bad about being happy with the other parent. Keep in mind that you may also be present at your child’s school or sports activities.  This is another way to show that they are important to you and that you want to remain involved in their life.  These are also ideal situations in which to communicate. 

10. FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES AND DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR CHILD EVEN WHEN THE OTHER PARENT DOES NOT.

Even if you are the only one following the 10 basic coparenting guidelines, your child is better off.  They have you at your best and in their corner.  Overtime, we can hope the other parent will see and copy your caring and wise ways.

These guidelines were adapted from Dr. Ricci’s text, The CoParenting Toolkit.