Key Points for Effective Co-Parenting
1. Allow children to observe how their parents accommodate differences and resolve disputes in a nonviolent manner.
2. Prepare young children for transitions to the other parent with only a little advance notice, using a relaxed and matter-of-fact tone, much as you would announce a pending trip to the store. Use the same tone to let them know when they will return. If the distress of the child worries you, ask the parent or a third party to call you 30 minutes later to let you know how the child did.
3. Communicate between the parents as to any children concerns because the child may have symptoms of depression or other issues that are exhibited in both homes.
4. Make sure that both parties are present on time for the transfer of children.
5. Allow flexible communication with the parent and his/her relatives. Do not restrict contact. Children may communicate through phone, letters, or computer. Do not interfere by holding back messages or letters.
6. If you move, stay in the child’s familiar environment with access to the other parent. Consult an attorney if the parent with the child wants to move far away for possible geographical restrictions.
7. Allow infants and toddlers to spend overnights with each parent. Discuss bedtime rituals, lullabies, stories, night time comforting and morning routines to help with transitions. Make sure the favorite stuffed animal or blanket travel fluidly to both homes.
8. If you travel to visit your child, make sure you bring the certified legal documents in case your ex denies you access.
9. If your child is only allowed supervised visitation or does not have the right to remove your child from school or daycare, make sure you provide court documentation to the school, daycare, babysitter, medical personnel, and coaches or other’s in charge of extra-curricular activities.
10. Make sure you allow the child to have pictures or items from the other parent. Do not strip the child from any reminders of the other parent.
11. Freely talk about the other parent. Do not have the unmentioned rule that the other parent is not spoken of.
12. Make sure that you refer to the other parent as “your mother” or “your father” instead of their first name or name calling words such as “the witch”.
13. When the child is visiting the non-custodial parent, give them time to interact by not calling repeatedly or keeping the child on the phone long.
14. Allow the child to take important possessions from home when visiting the other parent while the other parent makes sure that the important possession is returned back when the visit is over. This includes a restriction of toys. Example, John can’t bring his baseball mit to his father’s house to play baseball with his Dad.
15. Read books with your child that will serve as a springboard for discussions.
16. Make sure you are not instructing your child to keep secrets, spy or report back information. Do not ask the child to lie or convey messages between parents.
17. Use humor.
18. Make sure you spend quality time with your children. Even teenagers want quality time with you. Make sure there is private time with the children as well. For example, if the parent has a significant other, do not always have that person with the child and parent. Make special time for the parent and child.
19. Concentrate on creating positive experiences with the child. This also means creative play such as picnics, playing legos, hikes, building a huge fort in the living room rather than just spending money on them like going to chuckee-cheese or shopping for toys.
20. Keep videotapes, photographs, gifts and cards that demonstrate your child’s affection toward you to show how the child previously had a good relationship with you.
21. Do not try to overindulge them with age-inappropriate privileges, material things, a lax attitude towards homework, chores, and junk-food snacks.
22. Memorializing the positive. Make sure the positive experience becomes embedded in your child’s memory by saying, “Isn’t this fun?” and “What do you like best about what we are doing?’ Repeatedly focusing attention on the positive interactions strengthens the reality of the moment. Taking pictures and videos during the activity may also be helpful. An ongoing album of memories would be recommended like a scrap book for example.
23. Be involved in your child’s life which includes attending their after-school activities, parent’s night, and sign up for parent portal online to keep connected with your child’s progress in school.