The big challenge in co-parenting is what impact will the leftover marriage issues have on parenting issues in the post divorce relationships. Parents divorce each other, but do not divorce their children. Childrens reaction to divorce depend on the child’s age, the parents ability to deal with their own feelings of loss, the child’s ability to deal with changes in home, school, friends, financial status and changes in parents work schedule.Of significance in the parenting plan is the consideration given to “what the child has become accustomed to during the time of the marital relationship.”
The post divorce environment should address the status quo from the child’s point of view and gradually be modified over time. An article by Michael Scott, titled Co-Parenting, suggests that the co-parenting arrangement contain the following dynamics: communication, cooperation, compromise and lastly consistency. He believes, that it takes a period of years for these elements to evolve effectively. Many of the articles written about co-parenting suggest, that the relationship can be likened to a “joint business enterprise.” in which the focus is on raising the child and providing the necessary environment for the child to grow.
There is also a thread of practical wisdom in co-parenting articles, that conclude, that divorce does not result in the parents finally realizing that they must work together and act appropriately for the sake of the children. In developing a parenting plan,it should be understood, that “what is appropriate for a child at a certain age, will not necessarily be appropriate for the same child at a later age.” If the parents display a workable level of communication and can cooperate without fighting, then the parenting plan can be flexible and responsibilities can be negotiated through mutual consent. If however, the parents cannot seem to agree on parenting matters and there is apparent difficulty in communication, then it is usually “more effective to design the parenting plan with structure, with little modification.” Specific guidelines for time and duration of communication between parents may also be structured into the parenting plan.
As the role of parent continues after divorce, the benefits of co-parenting shine through, when the children recognize that they are more important than the conflict, that terminated the marriage and understand that their parents love for them will prevail, despite changing circmstances.