Every parent has a unique parenting style. Some are more relaxed than others when it comes to involvement with their children’s personal lives and academics, while others take a more active role, directing their children’s lives and working directly with their children to ensure their expectations are met. Sometimes, drastic parenting style differences drive couples to divorce. Whether your parenting style differences caused your divorce or not, you will have to face them head-on when you co-parent your children with your former spouse after your divorce.
Below are a few strategies to use to make co-parenting easier when you have clashing parenting styles. Keep in mind that as long as your former partner is not harming your children with his or her parenting, you need to respect his or her choices even if you do not agree with them. If you do feel your children are being harmed in some way or put at risk of facing harm, discuss your concerns with your lawyer to determine whether it would be appropriate to modify your parenting plan.
Work Together to Create Rules and Expectations for Your Children
Co-parenting with your former spouse will involve reaching a comfortable “middle ground” between your parenting styles. Work together to create rules and expectations that you both feel comfortable enforcing with the children. These can include:
- Expectations for when homework is to be done;
- Rules regarding bed time, screen time, and conduct in the home; and
- Expectations for the chores your children are to complete in each parent’s home.
Enforce these Rules and Expectations Consistently
It is important that you both enforce these rules and expectations consistently in your individual homes. If your children know they can play video games all night at one parent’s house, they could grow to favor that parent or use that parent’s relaxed rules as a “bargaining chip” to create conflict with the other parent.
Communicate with Your Former Partner Regularly and Effectively
When you have concerns about your child, discuss them with your former partner to determine an appropriate response. For example, if your child is doing poorly in school and you speak with his or her teacher about it, tell your former spouse about your meeting with your child’s teacher and the plan you developed with the teacher to help your child. This way, your former spouse is aware of what is going on in your child’s daily life and can offer help, such as spending more time on homework or splitting the cost of tutoring.
Work with an Experienced Family Lawyer
Adjusting from parenting as a married couple to co-parenting as divorced parents is a big adjustment. Before you begin the divorce process, start developing plans for effective co-parenting with your partner. Discuss your lifestyle and specific situation with your divorce lawyer to gain additional guidance and to ensure that your plans are in compliance with your custody arrangement and applicable state law. To start working with an experienced divorce lawyer, schedule your legal consultation with Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd.