Co-parenting takes a skill set only those who've experienced it can obtain. After the birth of our daughter, my partner and I struggled to co-parent in an effective way. There was a lot of push and pull instead of compromise. What I've learned though, is that even when we struggle we somehow manage to figure things out. In other words, even when it's difficult, it's not impossible. Plus, there more than a few co-parenting rules that'll make your relationship stronger, too. Trust me. I know because I've lived by them ever since my partner and I decided the kid of live we wanted. Together.
My partner and I come from polar opposite backgrounds. I had a toxic, tumultuous upbringing, while he had a fairly traditional childhood. For a long time, our childhood differenced worked against us. Yes, when we had our daughter we grew closer, but co-parenting isn't easy. It's actually kind of hard. Disagreements took some time to maneuver through, and our overall goals didn't always match up.
Through a lot of work and patience, though, my partner and I have focused on some solid rules to help us co-parent in a way that makes us, and our relationship, stronger. Are we perfect? No way. But are we choosing to parent together, day in and day out, regardless? You bet. So with that in mind, here are some parenting rules you and your partner can follow, too:
Make Decisions Together
The emphasis here is on the "together" part, obviously. My partner and I struggled (still struggle?) with planning and executing things while simultaneously making sure we're on the same page. But co-parenting can't be successful if you're doing two different things. It's confusing to everyone involved, and especially your kids. If you've made the baby together, touch base on expectations so your kids don't suffer from a poor partnership.
As with the above, communication is everything. Every. Thing. My partner and I have always struggled with communicating. He works a lot and I'm home all the time with the kids, so it's easier for me to just do whatever I need to and without "checkin in." In other words, I forget that he's the parent, too. I forget that he has a say, too, and regardless of whether or not he's home. Successful co-parenting happens when you're discussing your children, and their lives, together. So talk. A lot.
Don't Take Your Frustrations Out On One Another
In my house, tensions rise when my kids break the rules or lie or, really, any number of typical kid things. Sometimes that carries over into the relationship with their father, though. I don't mean to nag or pick at hime or whatever. I think I get so frustrated with parenting that, sometimes, I feel like I'm alone on the journey.
Over the years we've worked to reduce how much we bring that frustration into our co-parenting. After all, we're supposed to be a team, right?
Delegate & Compromise
It's not easy to delegate or compromise, but it's even harder to do all the parenting yourself if you have a loving co-parent at the helm. It definitely takes practice — especially if you are used to doing it all — but once you're successful it'll improve your relationship with your parenting partner and your kids.
Mutual Respect Is Key
Co-parenting, and existing in any relationship in general, requires respect. If you don't respect one another, why bother with anything else?
Find Common Ground
There was some foundation that led you to have a baby with your parenting partner, and it's even more important to find common ground long after you've welcomed your little one into the world. If you want a strong relationship, it requires give and take.
My partner and I lost ourselves at the beginning of our daughter's life, and we couldn't seem to find our place as parents together. Once we did, though, everything else fell into place.
Don't Disagree In Front Of The Kids
It's really hard not to fight in front of the kids. Like, really hard sometimes. But for the sake of maintaining a strong relationship — and a united front — you have to learn to bite your tongue and let a lot of things go.
I'm still working on this one.
Relationships change, just as the kids grow and you evolve. I'm not the same woman I was when my partner and I met and, honestly, I don't want to be. It's not always easy, but we aim to work together as best as we possibly can. If it doesn't work out, those who suffer most are our kids, and I think I can speak for the both of us in saying that we'd rather reassess and adjust than give up altogether.
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