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Why parental cooperation is important

It can be challenging to be parents together after a romantic relationship has ended. But for the child, a functioning parent relationship is very important. Children need to feel that their parents are doing their best and trying to make a functioning parenting team. This relieves the child from responsibility and helps create a good self-esteem when adults are doing well and can cooperate in an okay way.

A summary of this article below.

Transforming from love relationship to coparent team

After a separation, parents need to transform their former partnership into a parenting team around their child. It’s important for the child that each parent takes care of them – plays, cooks, shouts, reads bedtime stories and picks them up after basketball practice – but also how the parents interact with each other. This actually plays an unexpectedly large role for the child. At the same time as you build your own new homes and family lives, you also need to build a structure that carries the child between the parents, through a sustainable network of communication and collaboration. A parenting team helps the child put their world together and creates a feeling that they are parents together, no matter where they live. Even though parents will experience new relationships, get mad at each other and sometimes only communicate through email, they will continue to be parents together.

For the child, what has happened in your relationship is less important than you being its parents.

Malin Bergström, child psychologist and researcher

Collaboration makes it easier for the child

Being part of a team doesn’t mean you’ll instantly be a positive communication powerhouse, but it does mean you’re investing in creating pathways for communication. If contact is still not as smooth as you’d like it to be, let that be known. By talking about the difficulties, you show that you’re aware of them and that you’re working to find better ways to approach them.

Playing as a team instead of two separate solo players doesn’t mean that you need to have close contact or see each other often. It’s more about having two sets of eyes watching the child and taking advantage of each other’s observations. Depending on your personalities and relationships with the child, you both bring different things to the table, increasing the chances that the child gets what they need. A coparent team doesn’t work against each other, but supports each other’s parenting – it’s a shared task. Some separated couples fight so much that sticks and straws fly, while others never raise their voice and keep their distance from each other. Just like parents living together. The point is that the child lives in a mental world even though they live in two places.

Try to figure out what belongs to the relationship or parenting

Making the transition from couple to coparenting team means being loyal to each other as parents, for the sake of the child. This doesn’t mean forgiving and accepting any betrayal that may have been involved in the divorce, even if it feels like a mockery. It is perfectly normal to be upset, grieve and be angry about what you have been through. However, adultery and lies are a part of the couple relationship – which you are now ending. Parenting, however, should continue and be developed so that it continues to benefit your child. To help your child adjust after the divorce, you need to clarify what belongs to the couple relationship and what belongs to the parenting relationship.

Seeing your coparent with new eyes

In order to be loyal to your co-parent, you need to accept the fact that people have many sides. It is entirely possible for a person to be a hopeless romantic partner but an okay parent. Such insights require that one continues to relate to people whom one finds difficult. It helps to remind yourself that you are doing this for your child’s sake.

Try to look at your coparent through your child’s eyes – as someone they love and need. This can give you motivation to build a parenting team.

Benefits of a stable coparenting team

  • A parenting team makes life easier for parents who don’t live together.
  • Your child won’t have to be a messenger between you.
  • This reduces the risk of older children and teenagers getting away with doing things they shouldn’t.
  • The two people who love the child the most can sometimes rejoice together in their child (which is good for the child’s self-esteem).
  • You are less exposed to difficult periods of defiance or teenage quarrels.
  • It helps the child build good relationships with both parents (being an attachment figure is one of the most important tasks to contribute to the child having other secure relationships).
  • It relieves the child from adult responsibilities when it comes to planning, coordinating, and logistics.


  • For the child, what has happened in your parental relationship is less important than the fact that you are its parents.
  • A parental team does not work against each other, but supports each other’s parenting – that is a shared mission.
  • One part of transitioning from a loving couple to a parental team is to be loyal to each other as parents, for the sake of the child.
  • A secure parental team allows the child to live in one mental world even though it lives in two different places. The advantages for the child are many when the parental team works. Simply put, a functioning parental team makes a decisive difference for the child’s well-being and development.
Malin Bergström
Child psychologist