You chose your child’s other parent for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons may have been time-sensitive. In any case, your child has genes, traits and characteristics that are only half yours; the remainder comes from the other parent. What does the connection mean to the child who has your blue eyes and the other parent’s curly hair? What is the other parent’s role in your child’s life if separation and/or divorce occurs? What is your relationship with your child’s other parent in that case?

Most parents would agree with the research that indicates the ideal is for a child to have two parents who are actively involved in parenting. Becoming a parent is a life-long commitment; there is no going back. The family can continue even though the marriage ends. Your child’s other parent is still your partner in the parenting journey.

Parents can make a plan for their child’s future that will provide access to both parents and allow each to provide the nurturing and guidance the child needs. Even though you and your child’s other parent may have personal and relationship difficulties, you have some common goals for your child. Co-operative parenting with a specific plan to meet those goals can relieve the stress of life style changes, especially for the child.

Communication is key for co-operative parenting. You and your child’s other parent will practice a style of communicating that is different from the style you used as a couple. Communication will be focused on the child and the child’s needs and interests. Many parents communicate by text and/or email because a written record allows them to check times and dates and eliminate misunderstandings that can happen with verbal communication. Some websites allow calendar input and make scheduling easier.

Practicing consideration for your child’s other parent sets a good example for the child and often costs nothing. An example might be a text saying,” Johnny had a flu shot today. He was brave but he didn’t like it.” and add a picture.

Language can make a difference as well. Instead of “my ex”, refer to “my child’s other parent”. It’s a more accurate description. When speaking to your child, refer to “your dad” or “your mom”. Language is important and can help your child to maintain a feeling of connection.

Mediation can help parents make a plan that will work for each of them, keeping the child’s needs at the forefront. Each child is different and you and your child’s other parent know your child better than anyone else. You know how your family works. A mediator can guide the planning process to develop a custom plan that fits your family, your child.