Co-parenting is a huge step to creating or expanding your family, and so you need to ensure you are taking that step with the right person. We have compiled a brief guide to guide you on your journey to find the right co-parent. Here are five questions to ask your potential elective parent or parenting unit.
1) Do you agree on key child-raising decisions?
These are the kind of decisions and choices that can break apart even the most traditional parenting unit, and the benefit of co-parenting is that you can establish these decisions early in the relationship with your co-parent. By having this open discussion sooner rather than later, it will save everyone – and the child – strife further down the road.
For example: where will your child go to school? How will you celebrate the holidays? How would you discipline or reward your child? How much screen time will you allow them? All parents would agree these are important decisions – so make sure you’re going to making the same ones.
2) Do you get along?
This may seem obvious, but this is a person who is going to be a huge part of your life, and your child’s. A huge benefit of co-parenting is that, while not without any arguments or disagreements at all, you are both entering the relationship with eyes open and clear communication. This tends to minimise the threat of heartbreak or mistrust.
But you should also make sure that you enjoy spending time with your co-parent! Even if this relationship remains platonic, this should be your best friend, and your closest ally. This is someone whose hand you will hold in the labour room, and someone who will celebrate your child’s first steps with you. This is someone who you can cry with – but most importantly, someone you can laugh with!
3) Are your lifestyles compatible?
It is easy to look at co-parenting with rose-tinted glasses, but this is often a route for pragmatic people, and so you need to be pragmatic about your future. While different lifestyles can work, and often complement each other, you and your co-parent should be on the same page as much as possible.
For example, if one of you spends half the year in another country, is the other comfortable with how that will affect the childcare responsibilities? Will you change your work schedules or hours? Do you like to cook meals most nights, or go to restaurants?
4) Do you trust them?
Not only should you get on with your co-parent, but you should also trust them, both with your future child and your own life. We advise researching the legality of co-parenting as it pertains to your situation (there are several differences between, for example, two heterosexual single individuals co-parenting, and an LGBT couple wanting to co-parent with another individual). But alongside the legality, you should be able to trust your co-parent with things not so easily ruled or written out.
Co-parenting, especially after a divorce, often breaks down when one parent doesn’t trust the other in how they raise the child during their time. By choosing co-parenting rather than surrogacy or sperm donation, you are trusting that other parent, or parenting couple, with your future child. You are trusting that your child will be loved and looked after when you are apart. The small differences between your parenting styles, after all, can enrich your child’s growth and development!
5) Can you see yourselves with them in ten years?
This is a lifelong commitment, and it is important you make it with the right person. Take a moment to picture what your future looks like. Not only your child, probably in primary school by that point – but also your co-parent. Dropping them off at yours at a weekend away with them, or sharing Christmas, or discussing whether to pay for piano or trombone lessons.
Ultimately, your co-parent should be an individual or couple whom you can see yourself being happy with over the next twenty years, come rain or shine. Someone who you can celebrate the happy times with, and lean on during the difficult times. Someone who you can sit on the couch with and toast a glass of wine to the day.