Missouri by statute has a preference for joint legal custody, which means that both parents share equally in the decision-making with regard to the health, education and general welfare of the child. In essence, Missouri favors co-parenting. But even when parents still have the ability to work together post-divorce, co-parenting can be challenging. Recently, the Huffington Post ran an article on different tips to enhance co-parenting, and we thought we would share them with you.
First, never speak ill of the other parent, whether in front of the child or not. Co-parenting requires a certain level of trust and respect; nothing undermines that foundation more than going negative on the other parent. Conversely, speaking positively and even complimenting the other parent can enhance the atmosphere for good decisions and a pleasant environment focused on the child.
Second, keep consistent routines at both houses. While each parent has an individual parenting style, it is possible to maintain similar schedules and patterns at both houses, like when to go to bed, when to eat, family dinners, punishment for poor behavior. Following consistent rules helps the children because they only have one set to remember, and it limits their temptation to pit one parent against the other parent through manipulation of rules.
Third, avoid late changes to the schedule. Obviously, a parent could get sick or have a work emergency, but whenever possible parents should follow the schedule and avoid changes, as it can lead to a lack of trust and respect. When schedules do change for legitimate reasons, parents should help each other out and pick up the slack for the good of the children.
Fourth, avoid “control freak” tendencies in decision-making. In cooperative parenting, no one parent should come across as dominant or not respecting the role and input of the other parent. The more one parent seems to take over, the more the other parent feels excluded, and that usually leads to conflict.
Fifth, try to depersonalize your interactions. You did divorce for a reason, and those underlying resentments have a funny way of trying to pop up in co-parenting. The more you can be conscious of these potential landmines the more you can avoid an explosion. Keep focused on the present need of the child and leave any baggage in the past. And when you listen to the other parent, do so without judgment; evaluate suggestions on the merits and what is best for the child.
If you follow these five tips you will definitely increase your chances of happy co-parenting.
If you have questions about co-parenting and divorce, contact us – we can help.