10 Ways To Have a Healthy, Effective Co-Parenting Relationship For Massachusetts Parents

by | May 27, 2024 | Children |

Co-parenting is an arrangement between Massachusetts parents who are not in a romantic relationship with each other but work together to raise their child and ensure they grow up in a safe and loving environment. To work, co-parenting requires that both parents contribute to their child’s care, upbringing, and activities and interact frequently and respectfully with one another.

The best co-parenting relationships involve the parents putting their personal feelings aside to give their child what they need emotionally and physically. To start, try to identify what is going well rather than focusing on what’s not working. That way, you can accentuate the positives as you work toward resolving parenting conflicts with your ex. Read on to learn 10 ways to have a healthy and productive co-parenting relationship.

Have Clear Boundaries

It’s much easier to work together as co-parents when you establish boundaries and recognize what you have control over—and what you don’t—regarding your children and your ex. For example, you cannot control who your ex dates or whether they introduce that person to your children (unless it’s written into your custody agreement or parenting plan).

However, you can control the example you set for your kids regarding dealing with disappointments and setbacks. One way to be a fantastic parent is to be a good role model.

Research has found that emotional well-being is a “bidirectional process,” meaning an interdependency exists between a parent’s and child’s well-being. When parents are mentally healthy, they can better model healthy behavior for their children.

Have a Predetermined Schedule

One of the trickier parts of co-parenting involves managing schedules. Parenting time transitions are more manageable for everyone involved when the schedule represents a solid, predetermined routine rather than an iffy, “we’ll see” type of arrangement.

Parents who’ve reached a healthy level of communication know they can count on the other parent to maintain their commitments unless something extraordinary requires a change in the routine.

Research has found that consistent routines improve kids’ mental health and reduce incidents of depression, suicidality, impulsivity, and aggression. Routines are essential in higher-stress environments like divorce.

Be Flexible

While routine is healthy, it’s also important to be flexible with one another while co-parenting. A healthy approach is to be as accommodating with your ex as you’d like them to be with you.

Even if you suspect your ex may not return the courtesy, try to be the bigger person. Demonstrating how you’d like things to be between you can be more effective than repeatedly telling them that the current arrangement isn’t working or displeases you.

A lack of flexibility can inevitably lead to more conflict, which, in turn, creates a sense of instability for kids. Researchers say kids are sensitive to parental interaction and conflict, which can impact a family’s emotional climate and a child’s sense of emotional security.3

Defer to Your Co-Parent

This is another sign of a healthy co-parenting relationship. Parents who work well together and collaborate as parents will call one another to offer an opportunity to be with the kids before leaving them with a babysitter.

Some families write this intention into their parenting plan. Whether you take that formal step or not, it’s common courtesy to ask your ex if they would be willing to take the kids rather than leave them with a sitter. Of course, this works best when parents live in close proximity.

Aim To Be in Agreement

No two parents are going to agree on every decision. However, co-parents who work together well for the sake of their kids have reached a basic level of agreement on the most important things. Try to come to a consensus on issues about important things like the following:

  • Children’s health
  • Discipline
  • Education
  • Spiritual upbringing

In some cases, a written parenting plan has helped co-parents reach this healthy level of communication.

Avoid Manipulation

Parents who share a good, healthy co-parenting relationship do not attempt to manipulate one another or control their children’s allegiances.

They recognize that their children need to have relationships with both parents and that their children’s affection for the other parent is no personal threat to them.

Discuss Changes With Your Co-Parent

When last-minute changes are needed, parents who share a healthy co-parenting relationship make an effort to talk with one another first—before announcing any schedule changes to their children.

Some families find it helpful to include guidelines for handling schedule changes in their parenting plan. These written “rules” can help everyone stay on the same page and limit conflicts.

Show Your Kids That You Co-Parent Well

Generally, the kids of co-parents who work well together believe that their parents get along. This doesn’t mean you necessarily agree on everything or always like one another. But you do make a concerted effort to show respect to each other in front of your children.

Research has found that parents’ hostility is significantly correlated with a child’s aggression. In studies, the more hostile parents were toward others, the more aggressive their children were.

If, on the other hand, your kids perceive that you get along with their other parent, it likely means you have learned how to communicate effectively and minimize conflict. And that’s good for everyone!

Co-Parent at Events Without Tension

Having no problem attending school meetings, sporting events, and recitals when the other parent is present is another sign of an effective co-parenting relationship. These parents choose to put their children first and worry about what “others” think last. They can practice putting their feelings about one another aside.

Recognize the Your Co-Parent’s Importance

Co-parents who share a healthy relationship are also well aware of how important they both are to their children. They’ve worked hard to get to the point where they can work well with each other.

Even though it’s hard sometimes, try to value your children’s opportunity to know and spend time with the other parent.

Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce or involved in a paternity case, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.


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