What is co-parenting? It’s a question that all divorced parents must find an answer to if they hope to raise their children together. These are the lessons that I have learned over the years as a divorce attorney.
Earlier this year, I read a blog article that I thought really got to the heart of what it means to co-parent. The piece featured a viral Facebook post that shows a man hard at work mowing the lawn. He is a burly, middle-aged man with a goatee, a real tough looking dude.
The twist? He’s not mowing his own lawn. He is mowing his ex-wife’s lawn. According to the details of the post, which his daughter shared, he was helping out his ex-wife because her knees were bad and her husband was out of town.
I guess looks can be deceiving.
“This is my dad, mowing my mom’s lawn. They’ve been divorced 28 years,” the post begins. The daughter who wrote the post notes that this is what co-parenting is all about, that “the only thing that matters is showing your children (Even ones that are 32 years old) how to treat people, and how to love your family, no matter how it came together.”
Isn’t that something? When I read that, it reminded me about some of the lessons that I have learned over the years as a divorce attorney.
Respect Is the Key
No matter whether you have been divorced for 28 years or 2 weeks, perhaps the most important thing to remember is that co-parenting is nearly impossible if you don’t respect the other parent. Respecting someone isn’t just a show—it demonstrates that you accept and trust their ability to make decisions, even if you disagree with some of those decisions.
Without mutual respect, co-parenting is nearly impossible.
Co-Parenting Cannot Be One Sided
Think about the word “co-parenting.” What sets it apart from “parenting”?
If both parents are not following the same plan and putting in the same effort, it’s not really co-parenting, is it? It’s just one person parenting and the other getting in the way, no matter their good intentions.
What is co-parenting? Co-parenting is both parents putting the best interests of the child first, no matter what.
Co-Parenting Often Means Swallowing Your Feelings
Being a co-parent does not mean that you and your ex-spouse have to get along all the time. It doesn’t mean that you have to go out of your way to be nice to them.
It does, however, mean being nice and cooperating with them whenever you are in front of your children. It means never bad-mouthing your ex-spouse in front of your child.
To do this, you may have to swallow your feelings every once in a while. Put on a smile even if you don’t feel like it. Eventually, that smile will become genuine.
What Is Co-Parenting? Contact Me for More Information
If you are concerned about how co-parenting will work for you, get in touch with me. I will work with you throughout the divorce process to meet your needs.