A Parent Coach's Guide to Healthy Co-Parenting

I am not a co-parent. But, I was a child of divorced parents who, instead of focusing on healthy co-parenting for my growth, played the blame and shame game, putting me in the middle.

Frankly, it wasn’t the best way for my parents to support me, but they were managing through some difficult circumstances during an emotional time, where they were trying the best they could.

Today, as a parent coach, I help married parents, single parents, partners, and co-parents navigate the challenges of raising kids. Given my background and the need for co-parenting support, healthy co-parenting has been the focal point of my practice.

If you want to practice healthy co-parenting, here are some tips to consider and incorporate:

1. Consider The Big Picture

You likely married or became partners because you thought you’d be together forever.
You also likely had children because you wanted give and be loved and to do something amazing with your partner to make the world a better place.

When parents separate, they sometimes lose perspective. This is because egos are bruised, there are financial pressures, and there’s a feeling of loss of control. Though you may no longer be married or partners, once you have children, you will always be parents, and the reasons you brought children into the world don’t change.

So, the best approach is to recognize your children will make the world a better place
and have a better life if they can find happiness and independence with your support.

If you make this top of mind and recognize it through your mentality and actions, no
matter how difficult things can become, you and your children will benefit.

2. Prioritize Your Children’s Best Interests

Your role in healthy co-parenting involves collaborating with your ex to prioritize what is best for your children and cooperate to make that happen.

That means you should plan ahead regarding the activities, coordination, and communication protocols required, and do your best to accommodate them. Document your parenting plan so it is clear and understood.

Too many co-parents don’t plan, and as a result, they become reactive. It’s usually because there is too much to manage. If you prioritize the most important activities and align coordination and communication, it will be easier to implement.

3. Understand Your Ex-Partner’s Perspective

Your ex likely wants to move forward and enjoy a new chapter in their lives, still have a relationship with their children, and have a “say” in how it all unfolds.
What often happens is their “say” comes off as “It’s my decision, and you are wrong, and I am right!”

No matter how hard the split may have been and what the circumstances were, try to give your ex some grace; they just want control and understanding, just as you do. Doing so will enable you to work more collaboratively.

Additionally, you should never, ever bad-mouth your ex in front of your children. This demonstrates your weakness and models bad behavior. It fails to accomplish anything other than make you feel better momentarily, which isn’t productive. If you, in fact, take a “glass is half full” approach and remain neutral or even positive about your ex, your children will relay this to them, and you will likely receive more cooperation.

4. Focus on What You Can Control

Many co-parents I work with present issues they can’t accept when the children are at the ex’s home. An example is bedtime. At my home, the bedtime is 10 pm. The ex has bedtime at 11 pm.

You can’t control the ex, and you shouldn’t try to. It creates unnecessary stress and apprehension.
Keeping the big picture in mind, set boundaries in your household, and communicate the same to your kids.

If the later bedtime creates an issue, such as school attendance, and it is one of the big picture activities for your kids, then you can address it with your ex. Note, it will be about the result that is occurring that isn’t aligned with your plan, not about the decision the ex is making here.

5. Recognize the Role of a New Partner for You or Your Ex

New partners and blended families bring new opportunities for family connections and joy, but they also add complexity.

In this case, I suggest the primary parent takes on the primary parenting role, without burdening the new partner. It doesn’t mean the new partner can’t instruct, help, support, etc. It simply means the burden lies with the primary parent.

The primary parent can make the new partner feel far more comfortable by understanding what is important to them in building a relationship with you and your children.

An example is hygiene. Some new partners I work with face challenges when the children don’t shower often enough and stink up the house. This issue should be communicated and accommodated if reasonable and practical to do so.

6. Adjust Your Approach If You Can’t Work Things Out with Your Ex

Unfortunately, sometimes things just don’t work out. You do your best and try some or all of the suggestions mentioned above (as well as some others). In that case, you need to separate yourself from the strife and treat any interactions as a transaction.

That means communicating in a manner that is succinct and business-like. It may only be in email or text form, which is better than no communication at all for promoting healthy co-parenting.

If you are interested in discussing any of these perspectives further or would like to find out more about my parent coaching services, visit www.parentsjourneycoaching.net.
I can help put a parenting plan in place for you. Note, I offer a free, no-obligation discovery call.

Thank you,

Andy Goldstrom
Peer Parent & Parent Coach

Andy Goldstrom is a certified parent coach who helps parents regain confidence and joy. His proprietary 4A Framework – Assess/Address/Act/Adjust enables parents to change the ways they manage their emotions, interact with their partners, ex-partners and/or children. With an average 4.9/5.0 Google score, Andy is proud to deliver results that work and last.