Elective parenting enables individuals to work together to raise a child. Even before the baby is born, these parents will have had umpteen conversations about their child and how they will nurture them. They will have discussed screen-time and discipline, holidays and travel, diaper brands and milk. They will have talked endlessly over names, values, education and childcare. Co-parenting means that bringing your child into the world is a deliberate and planned choice, and you have (hopefully!) chosen someone who you are able to communicate with over all these decisions.
But that communication is just as necessary after the birth too, and throughout your child’s life. As with any partnership, this can be difficult, and so we’ve collected some of our own advice for a harmonious arrangement.
- 1. Remember your priorities
Your child’s wellbeing should always be your top concern, regardless of any disagreements you may have with your co-parent(s). You are a team working together for a common goal, and this goal is, after all, why you came together in the first place.
- 2. Give each other the benefit of the doubt
As much as possible, remember to be kind to your partner, and assume the best of them. You chose to raise your child with them for a reason, and you both love your child equally. If they have done something you don’t like or disagree with, there is most likely an explanation and you owe it them to listen to it. You will both make mistakes with co-parenting, as all parents do, so make sure to forgive each other when you can.
- 3. Talk to each other
Co-parenting is not just about having another person for your child to love – it also means sharing the highs and lows of parenting with someone who totally understands. Keep in touch with each with phone calls, emails, texts, and regular catch-ups. This is someone who is mostly a great and close friend, and so ensure you carve out time to spend with each other.
- 4. Keep track of your schedule
You were each, most likely, incredibly busy people even before you brought a child into the world. We would recommend sharing calendars or using the same app to make a note of visits, appointments, and any time related to your child. Keep each other updated, so even when your child is with one parent, the other is still in the loop.
- 5. Celebrate your successes
Together, you are raising a wonderful and happy child. Don’t be passive aggressive about an issue that happened weeks ago, or hold grudges against your partner. Make decisions together and help each other. It can be easy to get wrapped in where you have made mistakes or there have been tantrums or disasters – but take the time to reflect on your achievements too, and the journey it took you to get here. Once upon a time, you were worried you would never have a child – now you have one with an amazing partner. Cheers to that!