How to build a coparenting team
Going through a separation can lead to a new type of parenting. You may have previously had “your” areas in the family but now you must take full responsibility during your weeks with the children. It may feel hard and difficult. But research actually shows that it can lead to a deeper relationship with the child – something that is a joy for everyone.
A new kind of parenting
Parenting, both individually and collectively, gets new conditions when you live apart. When you don’t share your daily life with someone, you have to have a “broader” parenting on your own. This means, both doing braids, packing lunches and teaching children to ride a bike. At the same time, you should also build a collective parenting. Don’t worry, you can do it! You have the strength to succeed in parenting even if you live apart.
Children benefit from parent’s different strengths
Children benefit from having parents who bring different things to the table. A parent who is understanding and attentive can provide a sense of security by supporting them in everyday issues, friendship troubles or schoolwork. An active parent with a strong need for movement can contribute by introducing leisure activities and a lifestyle with outdoor activities and physical activity. A large family or family friends can brighten up a child’s life, especially if the other parent has a less social and extroverted lifestyle.
The foundation of the parenting team is that you both love your child and want to be involved in their life, and just as importantly, the child loves and needs both of you. Just like any other relationship, your parenting relationship will have highs and lows and evolve over time.
Agree on practictal things
Overall agreements, such as living arrangements, financial arrangements and a structure for how you communicate, contribute to creating stability and predictability for both you and the child.
Neutral, correct and friendly
The coparenting team always has the child’s best interest in mind and the contact should be neutral, correct and pleasant.
“Neutral” means that your joint parenting will be predictable and secure.
“Correct” means that it is based on mutual respect and that the child avoids emotionally exhausting scenes.
“Friendly” increases the child’s and your satisfaction with your family.
Maybe these words sound too brisk. And of course, for many, the contact doesn’t look like this in the beginning. But having a more business-like contact reduces the risk of conflicts and misunderstandings. It also makes the boundary with the relationship of love clear. A love relationship should be wild, alive and naughty. It starts from our emotion-driven and playful brain. The coparenting relationship, however, needs structure. Communication that is neutral, correct and friendly is primarily about practical information: checking in on the wellbeing of your children, routines and activities. It can also mean having coffee or watching the Christmas show at school together. If you drift away from the neutral, correct and friendly, you can remind each other to focus on the children – that they are doing well is the strongest motivator there is.
Go for stability..
Establishing routines and clear communication pathways can help us stay emotionally balanced. When children experience a predictable and stable environment, they can focus their energy on development rather than reacting to what’s happening around them.
Keeping an emotional distance from each other can help create stability, both by avoiding triggers and because closeness and friendship can evoke emotions that may increase the risk of conflict. Of course, it would be great if you can develop a friendship over time, but often a cooling off period is necessary before a romantic relationship can turn into a friendship. For that reason, it may be better if you turn to others rather than each other during the initial period of separation. This way, you can protect the friendship from being overwhelmed by conflict.
In the future you can become more free and spontaneous, and if you find yourselves in a conflict, you can always come back to a more structured approach.
- Separated parents need to develop a “broader” parenting style, as they are fully responsible during their children’s weeks with them.
- Children benefit from their parents’ different strengths, so it is beneficial for them when parents are different.
- A good benchmark for transitioning to an effective parenting team is the keywords “neutral, correct and friendly”.
- Try to create an emotional stability, which will bring calm and create better conditions for a friendly relationship in the future.