The idea of co-parenting speaks to the parents intentions to provide safeguards that underscore the child’s well being, their safety, security and future intent to do what is in the best interest of the child. Most parents have no difficulty in developing a parenting plan that legally binds them to this provision. Yet, in reality, good intentions can be compromised by unresolved issues, that began in the marriage and continue to influence communication, cooperation and the trust necessary for parenting to be successful. Children will inevitably be drawn into any remaining conflicts and chances of a healthy, post divorce relationship greatly diminish with time. The best option for parents, at this crossroad, is to seek educational and/or counseling help.
This website continues to monitor the internet for articles, studies and research related to co-parenting and divorcing families. One of the excellent articles that parents should read is Parallel Parenting by Phillip M. Stahl, Ph.D, in parenting after divorce.com. Dr. Stahl focuses on conflicted parenting, parents who argue frequently and who often, bring the children into the conflicts. He lists nine issues that lead to this type of parenting and suggests Disengagement, as one of the possible styles of parenting after divorce. Parents who practice disengagement will avoid contact with the other parent, thus avoiding conflict. The second step in the process is what is called Parallel Parenting or parenting on their own. This implies that the parents will not bicker over things that have led to conflicts, but parents will transfer important health, welfare and school information, if non-emergency by mail, fax or email. Another step in parallel parenting is, according to Dr. Stahl, not telling the other parent how to parent. “Accept that there is more than one “right way” to parent.”
Articles, studies and research all consider communication in co-parenting as essential to success. Minor or major arguing or bickering over parenting issues can continue to cause conflicts and minimize parenting effectiveness. “Writing communication” can offer parents a middle of the road opportunity to share important information without the impulsiveness of verbal arguments. As Dr. Stahl indicates in his article, “by putting your communication in writing, you have time to gather your thoughts and make sure that the tone is not argumentative.” This also lets the receiving parent exercise some restraint in their response.
A Calendar/Planner can offer parents and children a written form of communication, rather than verbal communication. Each parent can write down their observations of the child, during the scheduled visit and include important medical and/or school in- formation, as needed. This presentation can be supported by pictures of important events and even drawings by the child. The information can be transferred to the other parent during the time the child is returned. The information can be copied and emailed or faxed to the other parent, too. Written communication, via a calendar/planner format, can be non-judgmental, informative, enjoyable and even positive. Children should also have the opportunity to participate in the written event. Parents should consider getting a calendar/planner for them, so they can feel, that they are involved in the parent-child process. Kids can be very creative in using pictures, drawings and even video in depicting events.