How to Find Co-Parenting Success in Your Stepfamily

I’m leading a workshop at our Stepmom Retreat this week-end on Parenting Between Two Homes. I found some great information in Tammy Daughtry’s book, Co-Parenting Works, on how to identify your co-parenting style and find success as you co-parent.

Daughtry outlines three models of co-parenting that come from Dr. Hetherington’s book, For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered. Try to determine where you fit and where you’d like to fit:

     “Conflicted co-parenting is when former spouses make nasty comments about each other, seek to undermine each other’s relationship with the child, and fight openly in front of the child. Aside from being damaging, constant put-downs of the other parent may backfire, producing resentment and a spirited defense of the criticized parent by the child. One ten-year-old said, “When she goes into her usual routine about what a loser my dad is, I just hate her. I can’t stand it. Last night I yelled at her to stop and threw my dinner plate on the floor and locked myself in my room. She tried to make up but started with, ‘But you know your dad’s really irresponsible.’ I cried all night.”

     Cooperative co-parenting arrangements are where parents put the well-being of their children first and it is often difficult to attain. These parents talk over the children’s problems, coordinate household rules and child-rearing practices, and adapt their schedule to fit their children’s needs. Two decades later, the couples who cooperated were glad they did.

     Parallel co-parenting is a mixed blessing. It is the most common form of co-parenting (according to Dr. Hetherington) and is the easiest to implement. These parents simply ignore each other. They do not interfere with each other’s parenting or make any coordinated parenting strategies. They usually send communication through their children. The lack of parenting communication opens the door to problems and as children get older monitoring can be difficult. Children can also manipulate or play one parent against the other since they are the messenger.”

It’s not hard to recognize that the healthiest way to co-parent would be the cooperative arrangement, although it’s also the hardest. Perhaps that isn’t a possibility with your co-parent and you must resort to parallel co-parenting. But please, don’t stoop to conflicted co-parenting. Your children and stepchildren deserve better than that.

Time often heals raw emotions that follow divorce. Don’t stop seeking a cooperative relationship with your ex or your partner’s ex. It might not be possible today but it might be possible next year. Someone must take the road of humility and seek to make wrongs right. Will that be you? Your children and stepchildren will thank you for it.

What style of co-parenting do you engage in? Can you give tips on how you find success in co-parenting?

To hear the complete workshop on Parenting Between Two Homes and other workshops such as, “Successful Stepping: Is This Normal?” “The Ex-Wife-in-Law,” and more, join us this week-end at our Stepmom Retreat in Belleville, IL. It’s a great way to connect with other stepmoms walking a similar path and find hope, help, and healing. I’d love to meet you there! Details here: www.SisterhoodofStepmoms.com

Pic David Castillo Dominici

 

 

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2 replies
  1. Ba
    Ba says:

    Do you ever see families where parallel co-parenting is the norm for many many years & may never change? Even though the child is not the messenger, contact is as little as possible. When the other parent is highly confrontational & lifestyle is polar opposite to our own, there is no chance of agreeing on anything. In the past, talking about the child’s issues is either met with blame or defensiveness/direct retaliation. The child basically has 2 separate lives.

    • Gayla Grace
      Gayla Grace says:

      Yes, Ba, I have seen examples of parallel co-parenting when there really is no other option. Unfortunately, you can’t control the behavior of the other home and sometimes, there is no other choice. You can continue to pray for softened hearts, but that is about all. I’m sorry to hear of your situation. Blessings to you. Gayla

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