Capps, Cantwell, Capps & Byrd

How you can succeed at co-parenting

You want to raise a happy, healthy, resilient child. Your co-parent does, too. The great news is that you can do it – you have the ability and the desire.

Embrace the fact that co-parenting is not about your needs and what works best for you. For co-parenting to be successful, the focus must be on the best interests of your child.

With that in mind, below are tips on how to make co-parenting work.

Let your kid be a kid. Friends are extraordinarily important in your child's world. The time you have with your child is precious, but don't be upset if your child wants to do what his or her friends are doing, whether it's after-school activities, athletics, play dates (when they're younger) and hanging out (when they're older).

Think of co-parenting as a job. To remove the emotion from your interaction with the other parent, think of co-parenting as the most important job you'll ever have (because it is). Bring the same level of professionalism to co-parenting as you do to your work. Think of the other parent as a co-worker. Be cordial and civil, even when the other parent isn't. 

Never speak badly of the other parent in front of your child. This can be very difficult, but keep your negative comments to yourself. Remember that your child loves the other parent and doesn't want to hear your criticism.

Don't judge. When your child returns from time spent with the other parent, your child will want to tell you about it. Listen politely and be attentive. Don't be judgmental, even if it's your first instinct.

Don't confuse the child's role. Your child isn't your counselor, therapist or spiritual adviser. Don't use conversations with your child as therapy sessions. 

Keep regular schedules at each home. Kids need predictable schedules. Having the same schedule for meals, bed time and other activities at both homes will give your child stability.

Give your child the gift of consistency. Children need consistent messages in their lives. Establish shared expectations for behavior, school work, after-school activities, athletics, discipline and rewards. 

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