For divorced or separated parents in New Mexico, co-parenting can be a difficult transition. It’s naturally everyone’s goal to have a healthy co-parenting relationship, as that is what’s best for the children and the parents, too. In reality, the condition of this relationship is largely determined by the state of the communication between both parents. There is no hard set of rules for determining if your co-parenting communication is healthy, but here are five common traits that strong co-parenting relationships share.
Mistakes don’t derail everything
Disagreements, miscommunication and mistakes happen in parenting, even if the parents have a strong relationship. However, if there are no solid systems in place, a mishap can derail all positive communication efforts, and it will become easier to focus on a mistake instead of finding a solution. Once this becomes a bad habit, your attempts at communication and co-parenting will stall.
A genuine error is not an opportunity for co-parents to “keep score” on each other; co-parenting is a collaborative effort and not a competition. To help ensure mistakes don’t keep undoing your hard work improving your co-parenting relationship, develop a detailed parenting plan you can consult as needed.
Adult responsibilities stay between parents
Children should not be responsible for facilitating dialogue between their parents. Having a set system for your communication that is organized will prevent you and your co-parent from relaying details through your kids. In addition, your children should not overhear your parenting disagreements. A good rule of thumb here is to always assume that your children can hear you when they are with you. Even if they have headphones on or seem engrossed in something else, keep in mind they may very well be listening.
Dialogue is children-centered
Divorce can cause a lot of emotions and hurt feelings. When you’re upset, it’s all too easy to focus more on yourself and what you are going through than other people. However, for solid co-parenting, your focus needs to be placed on the health and happiness of your kids. When you always strive to focus on your children’s needs, making sound co-parenting decisions will become easier.
Respect is necessary
As noted above, some positive co-parenting traits will vary by family, but respect isn’t one of them. Every healthy family dynamic includes respect, and parenting after you’ve separated or divorced doesn’t change this fact.
For co-parents, respect refers to a bevy of responsibilities and interactions. It means things like being timely when you relay important details to your co-parent, respecting the time your co-parent has with your children and other forms of basic consideration. It also means keeping your conversations and messages with your co-parent on topic and polite. One common mistake that can erode respect is how you talk about your co-parent to others. Never bad-mouth your co-parent in front of your children, no matter how frustrated or upset you may be at the time.
The family mindset still applies
Although you are no longer with your co-parent, he or she and you are still your children’s family. When you keep the “still a family” mantra in mind, it helps emphasize the role of your co-parent as the other parent of your children and not just as your “ex.” This is an important distinction that can help form a stronger base for your communication with your co-parent.
Co-parenting that’s healthy doesn’t mean perfection. This a lifetime job, and there will be mistakes and disagreements along the way. When you focus on keeping your co-parenting communication in good shape, you’ll build up a stronger foundation that is more likely to weather those rough waters when they come.