Co-parenting is largely about establishing boundaries and expectations that both parents can consistently enforce. Most co-parents generally try to minimize how much they see and interact with one another as part of their effort to shield the children from unnecessary conflict.
However, those who share children cannot completely avoid one another without causing a bunch of logistical and social challenges. Direct cooperation is often necessary to successful co-parenting, and those who recognize how important cooperative parenting may be for their children may have an easier time minimizing how tough the shared custody arrangements are on the kids.
When do parents often need to cooperate with one another in a co-parenting arrangement?
During sports and other extracurricular activities
Children develop social skills and confidence by participating in team sports or other extracurricular activities like debate and theater. Their chosen activities will often have an influence on their personality and their social circle. Children and teenagers engaged in extracurricular pursuits typically prefer to have robust support, particularly at tournaments, games and other special events where they compete or perform. Co-parents can have a bigger impact on their children by showing up at the same time and sitting together to cheer and support the child as a unit.
On holidays and birthdays
Another time when children would typically prefer to have their entire family present is on special days. Celebrating holidays at least partially together as a group can help the family preserve certain traditions that the children find important. It can also help preserve their sense of family and community during what will inevitably be a challenging disruption. Arranging joint celebrations will require boundaries and patience but can make those special days more significant for the children.
Perhaps one of the children becomes seriously ill or a teenager causes a car crash. Whenever there is some kind of cataclysmic event that affects the family, it will give the children a sense of stability and protection to see their parents cooperating with one another instead of fighting as soon as the stress levels rise. Proactive communication can go a long way toward helping parents overcome unexpected family challenges without causing too much disruption for the children in the family.
Realizing that there are times when adults need to cooperate instead of opposing each other can help people shift their perspective on the task of co-parenting after a divorce or non-marital split.