Cooperative parenting is obviously best when both parents are dedicated to working together for the benefit of their children, but it isn’t always the case that both parents are willing to do the hard work to put aside their own hurt and anger to work cooperatively as parents.


When you are a co-parent, it is important to remember that you are not a single parent and you should truly share with your ex, so your children still feel they have both parents and two homes.  But not all co-parents understand this.

Remember, in sharing custody, you should not think of yourself as a single parent, since you are not, though adopting this mentality is one of the hardest things you can do in co-parenting.  If you were a single parent, your home would be your children’s only home and your rules your children’s only rules. You would also not have the burden of providing a positive role model for your children in order to fill the gap left by a missing parent.  So, count yourself and your children lucky if another parent wants to share that burden you. Most importantly, it is a great benefit for your children to have another parent in their life and to feel loved by that parent.

Ideally, make your children feel at home in both parents’ houses, which will help them feel their parents divorced each other, not their children.

This sharing arrangement also improves your relationship with your ex, because it shows you respect him or her, and thereby increases the likelihood of receiving respect back. In turn, this mutual respect makes a co-parenting relationship work, even if you do not agree with each other’s opinions, ideas, or behavior.  Moreover, this mutual respect will enable you to tackle problems, share ideas, and find compromises.

This respect for each other will also enable you and your ex to resolve your disputes in mediation.  Then, if you can resolve any disputes respectfully, that will help spare your children pain, provide them with closure, and help you and your ex heal from a broken relationship, rather than ending up in a long protracted dispute in court that hurts everyone involved.

Given the negative feelings that arise in a breakup with a partner, developing a working and respectful co-parenting relationship takes practice and guidance. A good way to start is working with a mediator or co-parenting counselor, or taking a class on co-parenting.

In short, if you become co-parent, the key principles to keep in mind are:

  • Share your homes with your co-parenting partner, so your children feel they have two homes.
  • Don’t think of yourself as a single parent, even if your children spend more time with you.
  • Show respect for your co-parenting partner, even if you disagree about each other’s opinions, ideas, or behavior, and rules for raising the kids; this will help your kids adjust to having two parents with different views for how to behave.


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