Shared Parenting Strategies

Ending a relationship is often a difficult decision to make and twice as difficult to actually do. When kids are in the picture, ending a relationship becomes even more complicated. While it may be necessary to end a relationship for the good of everyone involved, the presence of kids usually requires parents to restructure their relationship in some way in order to keep parenting together while living apart. Shared parenting is a responsibility that can be difficult to endure, but when done well, the outcome can be so rewarding for the kids. In order to help pave the way for successful shared parenting, co-parents should consider a number of different strategies to help make the situation more manageable. Some of these strategies include learning useful problem-solving skills and manageable methods of communication, planning ahead, and recognising what is worth fighting for. 

Working out a manageable shared parenting relationship that benefits parents and kids alike will involve determining strategies that help to cultivate some level of amicability between parents. One of the most important strategies that co-parents should consider and apply to their relationship is to find a way to appropriately handle and solve problems. Whether it be a disagreement in the parenting time schedule or friction over what an appropriate bed time should be for the kids, problems will arise in shared parenting situations. Even if co-parents didn't have much success in problem-solving prior to ending their relationship, finding some way to handle this now will be important for the sake of the kids. A good first step towards finding ways to solve problems in a shared parenting relationship is to have an appropriate method of communication.

Communication is key to problem-solving, and being able to do so in a clear and concise manner will also help to keep the focus on the topic at hand so a decision can be made in a timely manner. Also, having some structure implemented in the way that parents communicate will help to reduce the risk of added conflict caused by ambiguity or getting off topic. Structured co-parenting tools, such as those available on the OurFamilyWizard website, helps to make this possible by creating different spaces where parents can discuss different topics in an organised manner. If constructive communication continues to lack between co-parents, seeking help from a professional is another option. For example, mediation can help co-parents reach decisions with the help of a neutral third party to moderate the conversation. Later, co-parents can take the skills they learned during mediation and implement those as they solve problems and make decisions in the future. 

Communication is key towards problem-solving, and having a proper method of communication in place is also a positive shared parenting strategy. Another positive parenting strategy for co-parents that relates to communication is planning ahead. Planning ahead for things like the parenting time schedule over holidays or spending on the kids can help co-parents have a better idea of what to expect while parenting across separate homes. In many cases, a parenting plan which covers many of these issues is put in place during the process of legally ending the relationship. Keeping these arrangements in mind and documented in a place that is easily accessible to both parents will be helpful in terms of knowing what to expect. It will also be helpful in case an adjustment needs to be made. As kids grow up and situations evolve with time, the parenting plan may also need some adjusting in order to better suit their best interests. Being able to consider the old plan can help parents know where precisely in that plan that adjustments should be made. Although it is possible that an adjustment to a parenting plan may only be made with the approval of the court, if parents are able to communicate about it and come to a mutual agreement first, the whole process of requesting and implementing the change will be easier on everyone involved, kids included. 

Problem-solving, communication and pre-planning are all positive parenting strategies to implement, and just as important as all of these is knowing what is worth fighting for and what isn't. Co-parents may have a great number of things that they disagree on, but the number of those that affect the kids and are truly worth fighting over are likely fewer than one may expect. Being rational about these issues and the urge to fight for something is an important strategy for both parents to employ. If co-parents disagree on an important issue like education or medical care for the child, it is worth fighting for if you truly believe that your solution is the best. Disagreements on more trivial things like what the kids eat for dinner or what book they read before bed is something that is probably not worth getting into a huge fight over. Battles between co-parents run the risk of quickly turning into something much bigger than either parent expected, and this can in turn affect the kids. When an argument does take place, keeping problem-solving and communication skills in mind and employing those skills can be helpful in getting through the fight with as little conflict and repercussions on the kids as possible. 

Shared parenting can be difficult when co-parents are prone to conflict or have a hard time making decisions, but by employing certain strategies to the situation, it can be made much more manageable. Finding appropriate ways to solve problems and methods of communication, planning ahead, and choosing battles carefully can help to make shared parenting easier for parents and kids alike.