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10 Signs of a Healthy, Effective Co-Parenting Relationship

It takes a lot of work for two parents to get to the point where they can say their co-parenting relationship is going really well. For most families, there is still room for improvement. Rather than focusing on what's not working, though, identify what is going well so that you can accentuate the positive as work toward resolving conflicts with your ex.

By Jennifer Wolf

Updated on November 02, 2022

 Fact checked by Andrea Rice for Verywell Family

 

The following signs are evidence indicators of a healthy and productive co-parenting relationship.1 As you read them, consider what already works for you, as well as those areas you hope to improve.

 

WHAT IS CO-PARENTING?

Healthy co-parenting involves two parents who are not together raising their child (or children) jointly to ensure they have a safe and loving environment to grow up in. To work, co-parenting requires that both parents not only contribute in their child’s care, upbringing, and activities, but that they also interact frequently and respectfully with one another. The best co-parenting relationships involve the parents putting their personal feelings aside in favor of giving their child what they need emotionally and physically. Have Clear Boundaries
It’s much easier to work together as co-parents when you establish boundaries and recognize what you have control over—and what you don’t—regarding your children and your ex.2 For example, you cannot control who your ex dates or even whether they introduce that person to your children (unless it’s written into your custody agreement or parenting plan).You can, however, control the example you’re setting for your kids when it comes to dealing with disappointments and setbacks. Have a Predetermined Schedule
Parenting time transitions are more manageable for everyone involved when the schedule represents a solid, predetermined routine, rather than an iffy, “we’ll see” type of arrangement.

Parents who’ve reached a healthy level of communication know that they can count on the other parent to maintain his or her commitments unless something truly extraordinary requires a change in the routine.4

Willing to Be Flexible
While routine is healthy, it’s also important to be flexible with one another.4 A healthy approach is to be as accommodating with your ex as you’d like them to be with you.

Even if you suspect that the same courtesy may not be returned to you, demonstrating the way you’d like things to be between you can be more effective than repeatedly telling them that the current arrangement isn’t working or displeases you.

Defer to One Another This is another sign of a healthy co-parenting relationship. Parents who work well together and collaborate as parents will call one another before leaving the kids with a babysitter.4

Some families may write this intention into their parenting plan, but whether you take that formal step or not, it’s just common courtesy to ask your ex if they would be willing to take the kids rather than leaving them with a sitter.

You Basically Agree No two parents are going to agree on each and every decision. However, co-parents who work together well for the sake of their kids have reached a basic level of agreement on the most important things—like issues pertaining to their children’s health, discipline, education, and spiritual upbringing.

In some cases, the use of a written parenting plan has helped co-parents reach this healthy level of communication.5

Don’t Engage in Manipulation Parents who share a good, healthy co-parenting relationship do not attempt to manipulate one another or control their children’s allegiances.6

They recognize that their children need to have relationships with both parents and that their children’s affection for the other parent is no personal threat to them.

  Talk to One Another About Changes When last-minute changes are needed, parents who share a healthy co-parenting relationship make an effort to talk with one another first, before announcing any schedule changes to their children. Some families find it helpful to include guidelines for handling schedule changes in their parenting plan, as well.5 Children Think You Get Along Well   Generally, the kids of co-parents who work well together believe that their parents get along. This doesn’t mean that they necessarily agree on everything or always like one another, but they do make a concerted effort to show respect to each other in front of their children. They have also learned how to effectively communicate in ways that minimize conflict.7 Attend Events Without Tension
Having no problem attending school meetings, sporting events, and recitals when the other parent is present is another sign of an effective co-parenting relationship.These parents choose to put their children first and worries about what “others” think last, and are able to practice putting their own feelings about one another aside.

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