When you and your spouse got married, you thought that it would last forever. Now, the two of you decide that you cannot remain in a marital relationship. Although, you do realize that you must remain in your parental relationship.
To that end, you probably have your own vision of what a co-parenting relationship looks like. The good news is that you and the other parent can give that vision a chance of becoming reality. By examining what makes a successful co-parenting relationship, California parents can design a parenting agreement accordingly.
What elements does a successful co-parenting relationship include?
The first thing you and the other parent can agree on is that you want your children to grow up as happy, healthy and well-adjusted as possible. Second, you can agree that any personal feelings you have regarding the end of the marriage no longer matter. You have decided to divorce, but that does not mean you can't rebuild some form of friendship for the sake of your children. To that end, you may want to consider the following:
- One of the biggest challenges you may come across is accepting the efforts of a stepparent someday. Each of you needs to agree that any stepparent will not replace, but instead augment, the biological parent relationship with the children.
- Successful co-parents are flexible. Issues arise, and when possible, it shouldn't hurt to accommodate necessary changes.
- Each of you needs to agree not to take advantage of the other person's flexibility.
- The children need to know it's a good thing to have a relationship with the other parent and his or her family, as long as it does not harm them in some way.
- Fairness is crucial. You should not expect anything from the other parent that you are not willing to give.
- You need to respect that your former spouse is with someone new, as long as the relationship does not harm or take away from the children.
- You need to support each other as parents. You can get support outside the co-parenting relationship, but the two of you are the only ones dealing with your particular children.
- You and the other parents make the plans -- not the children. You need to stay on the same page and retain control of the familial relationships by not giving it to your children.
- Remember to be kind to each other. Divorce is difficult -- and so is starting over.
- Agree to keep communications calm and cooperative. Remember, you do this for your children.
- Keep your focus on your children's emotional well-being. It may be the first thing that unites you as co-parents.
- Work together as much as possible. You don't have to check with each other about daily decisions, but raising kids is tough -- do it together.
- Establish healthy boundaries between the two of you. As long as the children are not harmed in some way, your former spouse no longer has to answer to you when it comes to his or her personal life.
- Make sure the children feel safe and secure. They need it.
- Make sure you feel safe discussing matters regarding the children. You need it.
If you can create a parenting plan based around these principles, you set a foundation upon which the two of you can build. Not only will it benefit the children, but each of you as well.