Without identifying it as such, co-parenting is one of the biggest concerns intact parents have. Many parents come to my practice for help regarding their children but then much of the time is spent discussing how they parent with different styles and their couples relationship. United parenting can improve a romantic relationship; after all you are working together on behalf of the children you created.
1. Perspective taking. Before you discuss something important, recognize that your partner may not have your perspective. The more you are really able to listen and understand the their position, the easier it will to be heard yourself. Parents need to model this for their children.
2. You do not have all the answers. Parenting is one of the most important jobs a person will ever have to do. There is no instruction manual for it or place that people can study to become “experts” in parenting. It’s a learned practice and requires love, dedication, patience, consistency, commitment, and an endless list of other attributes. View parenting as life long process of learning. Money does not make it easier. Parents should be willing to get ongoing outside consultation either on the web, via reading or by talking with an expert. No matter how confident you are as parent, you don’t have all the answers.
3. Be willing to accept feedback. Your partner may not like the way you parent on certain issues and with good reason. Hear him or her out before you decide they are off base. Consider asking a friend if you are unsure about it.
4. Keep parenting separate from couple’s issues. If you are not having sex enough or not spending enough time together, don’t allow those couples issues to play out in parenting decisions. Make separate time to work on the couple issues.
5. Don’t split. Keep firm boundaries. Don’t bad mouth your partner in front of the children no matter how much you're tempted to or how angry you are at some decision you don’t agree with. Comments like “I thought your father overreacted to you coming in late” only promote splitting and unless you want to raise children with personality challenges, steer clear of putting each other down. Parents with more money tend to want to “win” against each other by buying a child. It doesn’t work.
6. Make time to discuss your parenting. Discuss parenting during time that is separate from your couple time.
7. Think like teammates. Acknowledge and play to each other strengths, and support each other being more versatile. If your partner is really weak with patience around homework, know that you have to pick up the slack. However, try to help him or her improve.
8. Non material gifts to children. Give your children the gift of watching you compromise and communicate effectively and show your love and affection, even when you have different perspectives. The most important job you have as a parent is positive role modeling. Take every opportunity to do it well.
9. Be polite. I don’t mean formal, but I do mean respectful and display good etiquette. Just because you know your partner like the inside of an old sock, doesn’t mean you have to leave out the “please and thank you”.
10. What children want. Most children want less parent conflict more than they want a better parenting decision. And being romantic in front of children helps to build trust in love and relationships.