25 Co-Parenting Tips for Dealing with Baby Momma or Baby Daddy
Once you get past the point of asking yourself how exactly you got into this predicament, you will hopefully be looking for solutions for co-parenting with the other parent in the long-term. You may not like the other parent, but the goal of both parents being involved in your child’s life should outweigh any of your own feelings. You are in this together and absolutely need to put any need of your child above your own needs. In the vast majority of cases, children fair better if they have a healthy relationship with both parents. Part of your job as a good parent is encouraging the relationship with the other parent.
Most people think they will be stuck with the other parent for 18 years. This is not the case. If things go well and you and the other parent develop a positive, nurturing relationship with your child, you will be “stuck” with the other parent for life. There will be weddings, funerals, college graduations, illnesses, etc. well beyond your child’s 18th birthday. A success story is when both parents can support their child for all of life’s big events, and yes, sometimes that involves being in the same room together after the child reaches the age of 18.
When any relationship goes sour, emotions run high. If there are joint children involved, things tend to get even more heated. It is understandably tough to put the children’s interests first. After all, you are hurting because of the loss of the relationship. But placing the children’s needs above your own is absolutely essential for establishing positive co-parenting groundwork.
If certain co-parenting skills are practiced, there will be lifelong benefits to your child, the other parent, and you. There will be less litigation and stress in your life. Your child will likely be happier and more balanced if he or she has two parents who get along. Litigation is expensive and if there is less litigation, you and the other parent will have more money in your pocket. That money can be used to raise your child and to pay for your child’s college. You will have less hassle in your life if you effectively learn to co-parent with the other parent. The tips in this article apply both before and during the litigation process and beyond. I hope you find them helpful.
- Let the small and (some) of the big stuff go (when possible) when it comes to the other parent.
- Think of creative solutions when dealing with disagreements. Remember that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to parenting. Each child and each family is different.
- Parenting time is not a “pay-per-view” event. Do not withhold parenting time because the other parent has not paid child support. There are other remedies to deal with the non-payment of child support, but the child cannot be used as a pawn for any reason (especially for a financial reason).
- Make decisions in the best interest of the child with the other parent. Do not make the decisions unilaterally, even if you think the other parent does not care about that particular decision. Try to include the other parent in the decision by sending information in a text or email correspondence. Try not to attach other financial matters to decisions that need to be made about your child.
- Don’t let emotions cloud your judgment. For example, when you are feeling emotional, wait overnight to send that nasty-gram email that you think you have to send right now. Your computer will still work in the morning and you will have a clearer head. Force yourself to revise the email, making it business-like and non-emotional. If you can’t swallow your pride and revise the email, wait another day.
- Do not (under any circumstances) discuss the litigation with your child. It seems natural to a lot of parents to discuss the litigation with older children in certain circumstances. However, Judges often do not agree that sharing any litigation with the child is appropriate, and it could be used against you in Court.
- Have a regular time once a week to spend a few minutes discussing any parenting issues with the other parent. Do not include step-parents, boyfriends, girlfriends, or other people in this conversation. It will not do anything for you in most circumstances and it is likely harmful to the co-parenting relationship.
- Present any decisions that you make with the other parent (or that the Court makes) to the children together, with a united front. For example, if the Court changes the parenting time for one of the parents from an every other weekend to a 50/50 shared schedule, sit the children down and tell the children together what the new schedule is.
- Be flexible if the other parent wants time with the child for a special event during your parenting time. Remember that you might want extra time with the child at some point, and if you give up some of your time for a special event, the other parent will be more likely to agree to give you extra time. Be reasonable with your requests for extra time.
- Have at least one photograph of the other parent in your child’s bedroom. This shows that you are encouraging the relationship with the other parent by your actions.
- Get advice from a mental health professional if you are having difficulty communicating effectively about the child with the other parent.
- Go to a co-parenting classes with the other parent.
- Do not introduce the children to people you are dating unless you have been with that person for at least 6 months, and if you are married to the other parent, wait until your divorce is final. Notify the other parent of your intent to introduce the person you are dating to the children.
- Do not publish information about yourself for dating purposes, if possible. For example, do not have information about yourself published on the internet through websites such as www.craigslist.com, www.match.com, or www.eharmony.com. If you use a dating service, remember that all information you give to the dating service can be harmful to the co-parenting relationship and it can also be used against you in the custody case if you do end up in litigation.
- If possible, you should not publish information about yourself on the internet. This includes postings on www.facebook.com, www.twitter.com, blog sites, etc. If you insist on posting information on the internet, do not post information that suggests anything negative about the other parent of your child, extended family, friends, etc., do not post information that suggests you are sad, vengeful, angry, depressed, anxious, etc., and do not post anything about your income or financial circumstances. Usually if you are a regular at posting information online, you will post something that will damage the co-parenting relationship. Further, if you do end up in litigation, every internet posting you make is potential evidence in the case.
- Help the child make or buy gifts and cards for the other parent’s birthdays and holidays.
- Talk about household rules and try to come up with rules together that work for both households for consistency in your child’s life.
- Try to give the other parent the benefit of the doubt, even though it is sometimes very difficult. Take the higher ground.
- Return the other parent’s text messages and voice mail messages about children’s related issues within a reasonable time, depending on the situation. Return the other parent’s email within 24 hours.
- Consider having a “right of first refusal” rule in place that if either parent is unable to be with the children during that party’s parenting time. For example, the parent with the scheduled parenting time that might otherwise hire a babysitter would notify the other party reasonably in advance and allow the other party the option to spend that time with the child.
- Consider having a communication notebook that travels with the child on transition days. The notebook can contain information from one party to the other concerning any illness, medication, school projects, homework, events, activities, or other matters affecting the child that one party wants the other to know about.
- To the extent reasonably possible, do not have discussions regarding any decisions or issues in front of or in the hearing of the children. Avoid name calling of any sort, loud words, or threatening gestures, including slamming of doors and similar conduct.
- Do not make disparaging remarks about the other parent and do not knowingly permit the children to be in the presence of third parties who make disparaging remarks about the other parent.
- Do not use the children to convey messages to the other party or to set up parenting time modifications or exchanges. Do not use the children to convey money to the other party.
- Consider getting advice from an attorney for co-parenting questions, custody litigation decisions, child support, parenting time, and decision making issues. Have a written Parenting Plan with the other parent outlining the parenting time schedule (including holidays), decision making for major decisions, and financial terms concerning the children. Have your attorney draft the Parenting Plan and give you legal advice concerning the Parenting Plan.
For additional information and if you have questions, please contact Gregg Greenstein.