When two parents divorce, their marriage ends but their roles as parents do not. They will continue to be Mom or Dad, and they will still be responsible for making sure their child is safe, healthy and happy.
As big of a challenge as that already is, things can become even more complicated when co-parents have different styles of parenting. In this post, we will briefly examine some suggestions for helping parents adapt to a new normal of raising children together but separately when they approach the job differently.
Start off on the right foot
Your parenting plan and custody agreement can provide valuable guidance on how to approach co-parenting, so be sure you take these discussions seriously from the very beginning.
If you have different styles, try to identify any hard boundaries as well as common ground. Will you both commit to certain approaches to discipline or nutrition, for instance? Can you agree on some basic ground rules regarding acceptable or unacceptable behavior? Establishing this framework can help you provide some consistency for your child, even when your styles vary.
Pick your battles
There are going to be plenty of times when you do not agree with decisions the other parent of your child is making.
However, picking your battles is an essential part of effective co-parenting. While things like being too coddling or too lenient might upset or annoy you, fighting over every difference of opinion can strain already difficult relationships. Unless something is truly upsetting or endangering your child - or affecting your parental rights - it may not be a fight worth having.
Focus on your child's well-being
Accepting the fact that you parent differently is something that could just come with time. As you adjust, try to focus on the bigger picture and your child's well-being. If you both love and support your child, then the fact that you take different approaches to parenting may not matter as much.
Whether you are about to divorce and have yet to figure out custody or you have been jointly sharing custody for years, issues can arise, particularly when you parent differently. As such, it can be helpful to discuss any questions or concerns you have with your attorney to better understand your options.