“Is it weird to get Dave something for Christmas?” Jen asked as she perused the endcap. “I mean, I never would have believed it—but he’s really being great in this whole co-parenting thing. How can I thank him?”
“Maybe the best gift is to tell him that,” responded Maria. “Co-parenting is tough! He might like hearing he’s making it work.”
Co-parenting is tough. The best way to keep a good thing going (or to improve a co-parenting relationship that’s not as good as could be)? Institute a quarterly check-in.
What is a co-parenting check-in?
What a check-in is NOT—a complaint session. A tirade. A chance to drag someone over the coals.
If this is all couples can manage—seek Conciliation-Mediation to craft a parenting plan that creates more clarity and ability to focus on the children. Or, check out, Joint Custody with a Jerk by Cocoran and Ross. This book offers keen insights on building cooperative co-parenting. Even with a jerk.
What it IS—a chance for co-parents to congratulate each other for making a difficult situation work. A check-in creates time and space for you to affirm what is going well, note any glitches, and suggest improvements. Finally, you celebrate who the children are becoming due to, in part, the good efforts of parents working together.
What should a co-parenting check-in include?
What is going well. Begin with taking time to specifically say what works well. Because problems create hardship, they stand out. It’s easy to overlook what works. Prior to the check-in, each parent should set aside time to think of and list everything that is going well in the co-parenting.
Note if transitions are smooth. Recognize the other parent’s help in sharing the load. Acknowledge supportive communications, i.e. when the other parent complimented you in front of the children. Recognize times the other parent picked up (or gave up) extra time for your schedule. Praise ways the other parent has grown in their parenting.
As you start with what is true, good, and admirable about your work together–you affirm each other. You increase good will. More, you build the trust. That trust proves essential in fruitful co-parenting.
What needs adjustment. Parents can then address any needed changes. To keep this from being overwhelming, focus on the biggest two or three issues. Often, when these are addressed, the others matter less.
Focus on objective situations rather than blaming. For example, saying, “You’re always late,” will just leave the other defending him/herself. Instead try, “When the kids are dropped off late, I have trouble getting to work on time. That’s beginning to threaten my job. How can we adjust this?” This approach opens the floor for working together.
Any new factors to consider. When married, parents make choices together. They blend priorities. They engage in or avoid activities based on the other’s feelings.
Once divorced, individual desires begin to rule. When these lead to choices that can affect children, the other parent should be aware. This is not to give the other parent veto power. It simply allows parents to work together regarding any impact on children. By working together, you protect the co-parenting trust.
Among items to consider: new romantic partners, changes at work that affect home, purchases of weapons, changes/concerns about caregivers, or fall-outs with family. In short, any ongoing, significant change that can affect children. This allows parents to cooperate around responses, or it simply makes the other parent aware, which allows them to plan their own response.
Check-ins offer the opportunity to affirm the parenting wins and plan needed changes. This investment in working together may be the greatest gift co-parents give each other.
If you have questions about parenting in divorce, or any other matter related to divorce, we are happy to talk with you. Call 317-344-9740 or email info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com. We look forward to serving you.
The content of this post is for information purposes only. For specific insights on your unique situation, consult a professional.