When it comes to parenting, whether both parents live under the same roof or not, it is important to provide a united front with regards to discipline, routines, and overall expectations for the child. This called co-parenting. Parental communication with regard to each parent’s value system is critical for the consistency necessary to foster appropriate modes of behavior.
Regardless of what the desired outcomes may be, follow these easy steps to co-parent effectively:
Determine desired outcomes.
It is important that prior to any triggering situation, both parents sit down and come up with clear, concrete expectations about what they desire from their kids.
- What is the discipline style each parent is comfortable fulfilling (will allow for negotiation/open dialogue, will be more authoritarian, etc.)?
- What behaviors will and will not be tolerated?
This way, during challenging situations, the mode of response is the same whether the parents are together or separated when with the child. This consistent co-parenting will indicate to the child that negative behaviors will not change the mind of the parent. For example, if a child begins to cry out and tantrum, will the parents given in or will the parents both remain calm and ignore the behavior? The response needs to remain the same across environments and with both or just one of the parents.
It is important to process and communicate your thoughts and feelings to provide an open forum for discussion. Do not hesitate to express your feelings and thoughts to problem-solve, but be sure to do this BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. Even if your spouse is saying something cringe-worthy in front of the children, be sure to maintain this stance and address your dismay or disagreement away from the children. The minute this parental dyad splits, the children learn how to “split” their parents to get whatever need they desire. This is where the child asks the mom for a playdate, mom says no, so child asks dad, who then says yes. To avoid this make sure that you defer back to the other parent to check on the previous resolution stated.
Follow these two simple tips to co-parent the right way. More questions? Our social work team can help you with any questions you may have about healthy parenting.