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Successful co-parenting means not trying to control everything

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One of your resolutions for 2020 is to be a better co-parent. On the other hand, maybe you think you're a great co-parent, but your former spouse handles things very differently from you, and you just can't make them see that you're generally right. Either way, you are committed to making your co-parenting relationship less stressful.

A crucial element of a good co-parenting relationship is trust. If you trust that your kids are safe when they're with your other parent (which we'll assume you do or you wouldn't be sharing custody), then you need to be prepared to give up some control.

You may be stricter than your co-parent when it comes to diet, homework, bedtime and screen time. While it's typically best when kids have similar rules across both households, they can adjust to their parents' differing expectations. If you can let go of trying to control the rules that your co-parent sets (or doesn't) for the kids when they're at his or her home, they may be more willing to communicate and negotiate with you on more important things.

Part of showing your co-parent that you trust them is minimizing how often you contact your children when they're not with you. It's fine to have a set time, like before school and/or at bedtime, when you call, text or video chat. However, don't constantly check up on them. This is their time with their other parent.

It's also best if the kids see their parents as a team even though they're no longer married. That means not allowing your kids to play the two of you against one another or to criticize or belittle their other parent in front of them.

It also means showing respect for the importance of your co-parent's home to your kids -- whether they're there half the time or every other weekend. Don't refer to your house as "home" and the other as "your dad's house" or "your mom's house." The same is true when you're talking to your former spouse. Don't ask what time they're bringing the kids "home."

These are just a few things you can do to create a better co-parenting relationship and a happier family. If there are stark differences in your parenting styles and you believe that some mutually negotiated details should be codified, you can seek to modify your parenting plan to include them.

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West, Longenbaugh and Zickerman P.L.L.C.

310 S. Williams Blvd
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Tucson, AZ 85711

Phone: 520-518-3781
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