Co-Parenting: Creating an Amicable Co-Parenting Agreement

Co-parenting refers to working together to do what is best for the child (or children). Although this term is usually reserved for adults who have gone through a separation or divorce, I firmly believe that it should also be used within families in which parents are happily married.

The reason I say that the term co-parenting should be applied to all situations in which two adults are caring for children is because the implication is that child-rearing responsibilities are shared regardless of marital status. If this tenet is agreed upon during happy times, it becomes the basis for how parents treat each other and their children at other times. Establishing such a foundation early on will prevent the ugly behavior that is often exhibited by adults who are hurt or angry about no longer being in relationship with their partner.

The basis of co-parenting is cooperation which means "working together toward the same end." In this case, that end is raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids who feel good about themselves and whose potential for marital happiness hasn't been shattered by dueling parents.

co-parenting

Unfortunately, many parents aren't mature enough to put their pettiness aside and move on to their new lives, while raising the children who are and always will be the product of their union. I've witnessed many recently separated couples, bad-mouthing their spouses, cajoling their kids into taking sides or hauling them off to psychologists to assess emotional damage that in most cases was created by their animosity toward the other parent.

If you really love your children, then you will be able to put aside your hurt and anger and arrive at an agreement which respects and benefits all involved, particularly your children who are innocent when it comes to the conflicts that lead to separation or divorce.

If you hate the person whom you used to love, then you still have some love for them and have issues yet to work on. (The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.) Acknowledge your hurt and anger with the help of a friend or trained professional. Don't use your children as a sounding board for all the emotional wrongs you have suffered at the hands of your ex-partner.




Although co-parenting may be difficult with a mean or resistant partner, you always have the power to choose how you act in any situation.


If your ex-spouse is cruel or unresponsive to your requests to create an amicable co-parenting arrangement, refuse to respond to this person's pettiness. Show your children by example that we do not need to react to other's poor behavior. Model maturity in every instance and your children will recognize the one who is being childish.

Do not bad-mouth your ex-partner under any circumstances. If you must talk about this person's behavior for stress relief, then talk with an adult when your children are not around.

Above all, make sure your behavior doesn't leave your children feeling like the stereotypical children of divorce. Do your level best even—if you have little or no cooperation from your ex-spouse or partner—to help your children feel that they have two parents who love them dearly and provide for them the best they can, despite the fact that they are no longer married to each other. This is co-parenting at its best.

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Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting. If you want to learn how to act in stewardship of your child (with all the delightful benefits for child and parent), purchase a copy of her book. The book won a Nautilus Award (given by Martha Stewart Omnivison) for "promoting conscious living and social change." It has also been the recipient of numerous other awards. Ms. Ramirez is available for speaking engagements.



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