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Co-parenting after divorce is a trial-by-error undertaking

Just getting through the divorce is stressful enough, but if you have children, you must also learn how to become successful at co-parenting.

Whether you have toddlers, young children or teenagers, co-parenting is a learning experience that comes with unique challenges.

Goals for family life

Each situation is different, and your goals as co-parents depend on your expectations for a kind of family life that is different from what you experienced prior to divorce. Your value system, however, may be much the same as it was. You may build it on your education, your cultural background, your religious beliefs and more.

A workable schedule

Structuring a co-parenting plan—or the allocation of parental responsibilities—should logically start with an understanding of everyone’s schedule. For example, one parent may work from home and can devote more time to the plan because the other parent works in an office and travels frequently. The children have their own agendas consisting of school hours and extracurricular activities. Once you have a good idea of individual schedules, you can begin to assign responsibilities: who will drive the children to school, to events and to medical and dental appointments; who will shop for groceries and prepare meals; how you will supervise homework assignments; and how much time you allow for playing video games or watching TV.

The importance of communicating

Planning is essential, but it will only go so far, and you will need to make changes on the fly. Communication between parents is key. No matter how difficult your divorce was, remember that you and your former spouse must communicate when it comes to raising your children. You can call, email or text each other. You can also meet face to face if that is what you prefer. The goal is to remain in touch about your co-parenting needs, bring up questions and discuss failures and successes.

Becoming role models

As you go along, you and your former partner will find that co-parenting has its rewards. Among those is something you may not expect: an opportunity to become good role models for your children by demonstrating how to resolve problems peacefully and put together workable solutions. 

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