5 Healthy Co-Parenting Boundaries
Tips to help you set healthy boundaries in your co-parenting relationship.
Are you sustaining a healthy balance with your co-parent? Are you each giving and receiving equally in your shared responsibilities for your child? If not, and you are finding that co-parenting is stressful or leaving you with feelings of exhaustion and resentment, don’t worry, you’re not alone! But this may be a sign that you need some help.
So… what’s the secret to a successful co-parenting relationship? Boundaries!
Boundaries make co-parenting so much better. Setting healthy Boundaries in co-parenting is a way to respect both parent’s time, energy and privacy while parents work together to cooperatively raise their children after divorce or separation. Boundaries create realistic expectations so that each parent can successfully step into their co-parenting role to maintain balance and harmony within the relationship. Here are five healthy co-parenting boundaries you should maintain for a successful co-parenting relationship and happy kids:
1. Keep the kids out of conflict
Adult topics should only be between you and your co-parent. Parents should go above and beyond to adopt a positive standard when speaking about their co-parent to their kids. Children self-identify with both of their parents and they feel validated when this is recognized. A comment like, “Hey buddy, you're so good at math! Just like daddy!” can be so encouraging for your child (and helps reinforce a positive co-parenting relationship). Don’t jeopardize your child’s self-worth by allowing criticism of either parent.
2. Stick to business, zero personal stuff
Advantageous co-parenting requires both parents to cooperate to ensure a professional, friendly relationship. To make this happen, it’s important for you and your co-parent to communicate as you would with a business colleague or boss at work. Keep the intimate details of each other’s personal lives out of the relationship and stay child focused. In order to move forward toward a healthy co-parenting relationship, the expectations, assumptions and informality of the former intimate relationship can no longer exist. Instead, focus on the ability to work together respectfully for the children.
3. Use effective methods of communication
Start off by downloading the TalkingParents app and using it exclusively for communication between you and your co-parent. Simply choosing to use the TalkingParents app to communicate with your co-parent sets a healthy expectation that keeps both parents accountable. The tone of the messages should be formal, child centered and friendly. Try using “I statements” rather than accusations.
You should have a solutions-based approach when dealing with issues. Here’s an example, “I noticed that Monday morning pick-ups have been running about 15 minutes behind schedule. Would it be easier if we changed the pick-up time to 8:15? Let me know and we can start next week, Thanks!” With this approach, your co-parent is less likely to be put on the defensive about being late and already has a solution to the problem. Knowing communication methods like this can help de-escalate potential disputes and keep the peace within your correspondence.
4. Be supportive of your co- parent’s role in your child’s life
If you can, include your co-parent in events in your child’s schedule, like soccer games and dance recitals. Share the inside info on what’s going on with your child that your co-parent may have missed during your parenting time. Sending a quick message like, “Just a head’s up, our daughter will now only eat Trader Joe’s brand marinara on her spaghetti,” can make a big impact. Being a supportive co-parent is an amazing way to benefit your child and create a positive dynamic in your relationship.
5. Stick to the parenting schedule
Make sure your parenting plan is comprehensive with no room for misunderstandings. The plan needs to cover parenting time, date and time of exchanges, holidays, vacations and emergency protocols. A carefully written parenting plan can be created so that work, school and social life all revolve around scheduled parenting time.
Respect your co-parents time by arriving for pick-ups/drop-offs on time, not planning activities during your co-parent's time, and making sure that the kids are available for their video call time. We all know how inconvenient last minute schedule changes can be, so try not to ask that of your co-parent unless absolutely necessary. If modifications to the schedule are needed, try to give plenty of notice so your co-parent is not caught off guard.
Setting boundaries can be hard at first and may feel uncomfortable
Once the boundary is set it will become a normal, everyday part of the co-parenting relationship that eliminates resentment and nurtures compassion. By setting specific, firm boundaries right away and keeping the relationship child focused, you are laying the foundation for an amicable co-parenting relationship for life.
Remember that your children love both their parents very much and they want both parents to be actively involved in their lives! Setting healthy co-parenting boundaries can make a big difference in how you show up for your kids to help them thrive in a two home environment.