My ex- partner and I share one daughter. Unfortunately, reaching a place of effective co-parenting did not happen overnight for us. It took my ex and me five years to reach an amicable co-parenting relationship.
So count yourself blessed if you and your ex have little-to-no disagreements. Now for those that have a difficult time reaching a place of indifference and cordiality with your co-parent as I did, I hope I can impart some brutally honest words of wisdom you can use.
Here are my four tips to simplify your co-parenting relationship.
1. Develop a win-win parenting plan
When it comes to co-parenting, I now trust my co-parent to follow our child custodial order. However, it was not always this way. In the past, prior to the implementation of our latest parenting plan in 2018, how we each interpreted grey areas within our court order was problematic; it was like fighting a war.
Which is why I recommend it is extremely critical that your parenting plan reads clear and concise. If it does not read clear and concise, it may be time to develop a new plan.
I spent 2014 – 2018 fighting for a fair and equitable parenting plan. It took five years, tens-of-thousands of dollars, multiple court hearings, and for my co-parent and me to adjust our mindsets to develop a parenting plan that was fair to the both of us. By the time my co-parent and I reached the development of our third parenting plan in five years, we both came to the conclusion that our focus had to be on a parenting plan that would reduce conflict.
To achieve this objective, we started with the end in mind and worked backwards. Our main objective was to reduce the conflict, followed by proposing win-win parameters, and ensuring neither one of us had the ability to infringe on one another’s parenting time. Additionally, it was also important that we recognized the need for complete independence and autonomy from one another during the periods we were exercising parenting time for the purpose of day-to-day minor decisions.
2. Create room for parental autonomy
One issue, out of several, surrounding our high-conflict co-parenting had to do with over-stepping boundaries. Our new parenting plan, now in play for one-year at the time of this post, makes it very clear which situations my co-parent and I must come together for. If the situation is not medically or educationally relevant, my co-parent and I make our own day-to-day independent decision from each other.
This practice has freed us from feeling we have to micro-manage one another, allowing us to focus on what is truly important. It also calls for trusting the judgment of our co-parent even when we do not agree with them.
If the day-to-day decision of the other parent does not endanger the child(ren), then let the situation go. Learn to live without having to have some sort of control in every situation.
If it is not your turn to have the child(ren), outside of having to make major joint decisions, then let it go. Reaching a level of allocating the most autonomy in parenting is very freeing.
3. Craft a well written plan
A well written parenting plan is very clear and concise, addressing anything that can become an issue. Even if you and your co-parent are on friendly and amicable terms, people can change and become unpredictable. This is especially true when ex-partners move on and decide to date or re-marry.
It is human nature when someone hurts you, or you get hurt by another person, to become bent on revenge.
So do yourself a favor and spend time crafting a well written plan that projects issues of the present and future.
4. Keep co-parenting simple
There are many different ideas how to effectively co-parent. However, sometimes co-parenting in the way we want, or by our own individual definition of the term, creates issues. Keep co-parenting simple and basic.
You and your now co-parent are not together anymore. As co-parents you do not have a say what the other parent can and cannot do, even if you do not like the new person they are now dating.
A well written parenting plan outlines everything that must be done; at least it should.
Simply put, leave each other alone. Coming together for the sake of the kids does not have to include jointly celebrating holidays and birthdays. Co-parenting effectively really means communicating effectively and deciding what is in the best interests of the kids medically and educationally. The rest of the day-to-day decisions and parenting should be up to each individual parent. Keep it simple, and pick and choose which issues are worth arguing about.