Shared parenting will reach into many areas of your life, and coming up with healthy co-parenting guidelines is the most effective method for making the enterprise work over the long haul. Once you start to discuss strategy with your ex in a productive way, there are some important topics you need to explore. Although every single parenting and co-parenting experience is unique, there are specific issues that are common to any style of child-rearing.
- Health - Effective medical management is one area where being able to orchestrate shared living arrangements and useful communication between single parents isn't just good parenting, it's critical to the safety of your children. If you encourage an open exchange of ideas and information via phone, e-mail or in person, you can share intelligence about a child's medical coverage, symptoms, illnesses and medications, as well as strategies about how to handle them. Remember not to put your children in the middle. Share information and exchange medications directly with your ex-spouse.
- Scheduling - Effective scheduling and responsible conduct relative to the schedule is the backbone of harmonious co-parenting. Say what you're going to do, and follow through. Emergencies happen that force cancellations and delays, but by definition they don't happen often.
- Finances - If money causes a breakdown in communication, everyone loses. When an exchange of monies is necessary, don't make one of your children the middleman. It may be a sore spot, but details about finances and shared expenses should be resolved before the bills come due by establishing a reasonable arrangement that you both can agree on.
- Discipline - If you and your ex have radically different parenting styles, exercise a meeting of the minds by using your ability to compromise. Mixed messages aren't going to help your children, and providing consistent discipline is what's really important here. If compromise isn't an option, then discuss the specifics with your children and explain the rules of the road for each household.
Healthy co-parenting guidelines develop and change over time. To see how others are handling the challenge, check out a few single parenting articles with a first-person perspective or join a single parenting group where you can get insight from parents who have experienced what you're going through.