If you have kids, and you have recently experienced a divorce or separation, you have probably heard the word “co-parenting”.
Lawyers, therapists, counsellors, and parents love to throw this term into conversations - expecting newly separated moms and dads to automatically understand what they’re talking about.
And yet, you’re probably thinking, “Wait, just what does that word mean?”
In this three-part series, we’ll take a look at some of the core features of co-parenting: collaboration, communication, and commitment. In this first installment, we’ll look at the first feature...collaboration.
The Art of Collaboration
Collaboration is one of the core features of co-parenting. If you’re thinking “collaborate with my ex? Are you crazy?” then you’re not alone. Many newly separated parents can’t even imagine working together. However, in this case, collaborating doesn’t mean living together, talking every day, or even seeing each other in person at all.
Collaborating just means working together to raise your child - in whatever form that takes for you.
In co-parenting, both parents take financial responsibility, support in school and extracurricular activities, share decision-making authority, and hold equal responsibility for the health and wellbeing of their child.
Children who are co-parented usually spend at least 30% of their time in each parent’s home, although 50% time in each home is frequently recommended. Optimally, children spend equal amounts of weekday (school) and weekend (leisure) time with each parent.
When you are co-parenting, collaboration means simply sharing responsibility, each rising to the occasion, and being present and available to parent your child - together.
Long-Term Benefits of Collaboration
Co-parenting has been found to provide innumerable benefits to children of divorced or separated parents.
It also benefits parents.
By collaborating on their parenting duties, moms and dads are able to offset some of the challenges of being a single parent. They benefit from having extra help with childcare responsibilities, experience less financial stress, and have a healthier relationship with their children.
Summary of Part II and III: In part two of this series, we’ll chat about the importance of effective communicating while co-parenting, and in part three, we’ll look at the commitment involved in co-parenting.