As a parent, you are the most important person in your child’s life. You are their moral compass, teacher, role model, and protector. But what happens when you no longer live under the same roof? How do you make sure that your children grow up to be happy and well-adjusted adults?
Co-parents should never forget that the children should be prioritized over everything else. They are already going through a tough time, and it’s up to the co-parents to try their best to help make the children involved feel a sense of normalcy.
This article will discuss co-parenting rules that will help make the situation beneficial for everyone involved – especially for the kids.
Effective Co-Parenting Rules
It’s About the Children
When thinking about co-parenting rules, it’s important to keep the kids out of the middle. The point is not for mom and dad to “win” but rather to do what is best for their children. Some rules may be more important than others, and some parents will not agree with all of them.
The key is to keep talking about the children, even if it means that you have to compromise on other issues or find a way for your kids to benefit from both of their two households equally.
Have an Open Dialogue
It’s important to keep the lines of communication open, especially after a breakup. This means keeping your child out of it as much as possible and allowing them to confide in you without feeling that they are betraying their other parent or vice versa.
They may also feel more comfortable talking with one parent over another – this is ok too. But make sure you both follow through on what has been agreed upon, so nothing gets “lost” between households.
Have Consistent Rules
It’s important to have the same co-parenting rules across both households. This will ensure that your child is well-balanced and has a sense of normalcy in their life, regardless of where they are or who they’re with at any given time.
For instance, if you prefer to use rewards instead of punishments for negative behavior, make sure that you establish this system early on, so it becomes part of the routine during visitation days as well – consistency is key.
Also, try not to take sides when disciplining kids. Children may feel like one parent loves them more than the other if mom doesn’t punish them for breaking something even though they know better, but dad sends them straight to their room without dinner for the same mistake.
Maintain Positive Talk Around the House
Both mom and dad should be mindful of what is being said in front of the children when it comes to the other parent. For instance, if they hear their parents complain about how much money they are spending on child support or alimony every month, they may start resenting them for “being mean” – even though they might not have been talking directly about them.
Kids pick up on things quickly, so make sure you keep any negative talk away from their ears. Otherwise, they will feel like there’s something wrong with one (or both) parents, which can lead to resentment later down the road.
This also includes gossip that may seem harmless but could easily get twisted into a different tale depending on who your kids hear it from first – make sure you keep it positive and remind your child regularly about how much they mean to both of their parents.
Have a Plan
It’s important to have a plan – with both parents. This is vital if you are going through a custody battle or just want to be prepared in case something unfortunate happens.
For instance, what do you think your child should do if they’re at one house and mom/dad isn’t there? What about who they call first when it comes to emergencies or school issues? Make sure that this plan includes the other parent, so nothing falls through the cracks for kids, especially during visitation days.
This also means knowing all of their extracurricular activities like sports, dance classes, and such because children will need to know this information so they can be prepared if something comes up during visitation days.
Sometimes, things happen, and plans need to be changed. Kids should not feel like they are under a microscope each time they step foot into the other household, so being flexible with co-parenting rules is key.
For instance, if your child wants to have pizza for dinner even though you had planned on making spaghetti – let them enjoy themselves that night. If mom or dad has a work emergency and can’t pick up the kid at school, the other co-parent should step up to the plate.
Life happens, but kids shouldn’t be caught in the middle of it all because both parents aren’t willing to compromise certain aspects of co-parenting. Remember, this is for the best of your child, and they will appreciate it as long as you make them feel like they are loved no matter what.
Kids don’t need to hear about how awful their other parent is or why they’re such a terrible person for leaving or cheating. It doesn’t serve any purpose except make them feel like there’s something wrong with one (or both) parents, which can lead to resentment down the road.
Avoid talking badly about each other in front of children and give them time to process what has been said before sharing your perspective as well. Remember: you will never win over your child by putting someone else down so focus on building yourself up instead if you want them fully invested in co-parenting.
Don’t Use the Kids to Relay Messages
Kids are not little messengers and should never be used as such. They do not need to know that you’re mad at their other parent or what has happened during the time they’ve been with them. Rather, put your anger aside for a few hours while kids are in your care so you can show them how much fun it is to spend quality time together.
Don’t make children feel like they have something to apologize for simply because mommy or daddy were fighting – let everyone work out any issues by themselves without involving innocent bystanders who didn’t ask for this kind of drama.
Remember: co-parenting means putting all animosity aside when spending time with each other’s child(ren) no matter what has transpired before then.
Do Activities as a Family
Set aside time to go out with your child(ren) and their other parent so everyone can spend some quality time together.
This doesn’t need to be expensive – even a simple trip for ice cream does the trick. If you’re not willing to do this, it’s not fair on the children because they want nothing more than to see both of their parents getting along well while spending time with them. It just takes one or two positive experiences like these before kids start seeing things through different lenses, which will ultimately lead towards better co-parenting in general.
Let the Kids Have a Say
Kids don’t always know what’s best for them – but they do have a choice in certain aspects of their lives. For instance, if your child asks you to let them attend a sleepover that the other parent has already agreed upon, then it’s not fair on either one of you as parents to say no simply because you disagree with something else about co-parenting.
Consider how important this event is to your little one and whether or not saying yes will be beneficial at the end of the day. Kids need both parents regardless, so showing respect towards each other can sometimes lead towards more peaceful times later down the road!
Remember: maintaining strong relationships takes effort from everyone involved and keeping an open mind throughout everything is key.
Respect Each Other’s Time with the Kids
If your child’s other parent is taking them somewhere, then it’s not nice to start calling or texting every half hour because you’re feeling insecure about the time they have with their kids. Let each other maintain a sense of independence in parenting decisions no matter how much either one of you may disagree with certain choices.
Everyone has different needs when it comes to spending quality time together and respecting these boundaries will only lead towards more peaceful interactions, especially if there are shared custody arrangements in place.
Remember to Update Each Other
Even if only one parent has the kids for a particular day, it’s important to let the other person know what activities they’re involved in throughout that time.
This is especially true when there are shared custody arrangements and parents may not be seeing each other as often. Updating the other parent of their children’s schedules can benefit them because they will always know where the children will be.
Co-parenting works both ways, so always keep all lines of communication open by sticking to certain co-parenting rules which you’ve put together at the beginning of your journey towards better parenting.
Don’t Get Jealous
It’s natural to be jealous of your child(ren) spending time with someone else instead of you, but it’s important to remember that everyone involved is equally valuable, and none of this should come at the expense of anyone else.
Let go of all insecurities about parenting decisions, get rid of any controlling behavior because nothing good comes from trying to control another person who doesn’t want such treatment. Show respect towards each other for a change, and co-parenting will become easier than ever before. Keep these tips in mind throughout everything and never forget: you’re always learning how to do your best as parents, so mistakes are inevitable – what matters most is acknowledging them when they happen and working on becoming better people (and parents) every single day.
Be a Responsible Adult
Responsible adults make responsible choices, even when it comes to parenting. Parents sometimes struggle because they’ve lost sight of what’s important, but this isn’t the case for everyone.
If you’re constantly spiraling downwards into a pit of despair, then self-help resources are always available to help pull yourself back up again. Perhaps you could speak with someone who could potentially assist in your time of need. It is ever too late to talk about any issues that have been bothering you at home before things get out of hand and both parents can do their best together by sticking to their co-parenting rules which will promote better co-parenting overall.
Admit Co-Parenting is Challenging
Oftentimes, people are afraid to admit that co-parenting is challenging, especially when co-parenting with a narcissist or someone who hurt you. They don’t want anyone else to know what’s going on – but the truth of the matter is, this isn’t healthy for either party involved.
Keeping negative emotions bottled up inside can take a toll not only emotionally but physically as well, so try your best to be honest with your child(ren) about any issues you have within their household or vice versa. Communication may seem difficult at first, but it will become easier over time and eventually lead towards better days ahead. Just remember that everyone deserves respect regardless of if it seems hard at the present moment.