08
Co-Parenting
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08.1
What to Know
Do you and the mother of your children live apart? Are the two of you divorced, separated, or never married? Do you have full, joint, or no custody of your children?
No matter your answers, raising your children together when you don’t live together is called “co-parenting” or “shared parenting.” Parenting together for the sake of your children is so vital. And yet, it is one of the hardest things to get right. Even if you’re living with her, parenting together is still hard! That’s why you can use what you’ll learn in this topic no matter whether you live with her or not, or are married to her or not.
What are the main issues between you and the mother of your children in raising your children?
Do you and the mother of your children approach parenting differently?
What problems do those issues cause?
Reflect on your answers to these two questions:
Different styles of parenting
Different approaches to parenting
If you’re like most parents, there are issues between you. Two things can lead to those issues:
Which one do you think causes the most issues and leads to most problems? If you said “approaches,” you’re right! Different styles are different kinds or types of something. Men and women are different kinds of parents—they have different styles. (You can learn more about these styles in the Fathering Skills topic.) These styles can sometimes clash, such as when a mom becomes concerned when a dad plays in a rough and tumble way with their children. Different approaches are different ways to go about doing a task or solving a problem. Although differences in parenting styles can lead to problems between parents, it’s different approaches to parenting that cause major problems between parents. The reason is beliefs, morals, and values lead to different approaches. Let’s take values as an example. Values are the things people think are important and have worth. A different value can cause a major problem. Let’s say mom and dad don’t place the same value on their children going to college. That could lead to fights and cause them to place a different value on saving money for college. And that could lead to fights over whether and where to spend their extra income. It’s easy to see how their different approaches can lead to one problem after another.
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What Else
1. Get in touch with your point of view.
2. Listen to her point of view.
3. Know that her view is as important to her as yours is to you.
4. Put yourself in her shoes to see things as she does.
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08.2
The good news is no matter the problems caused by different parenting approaches; you can try to work with the mother of your children to solve them. There are three views you must take into solving any problem with her.
  • Solve problems that are “solvable.” Don’t tackle those that you and she can’t solve.
  • It’s okay to reduce a problem and not solve all of it.
  • You can only control what you say and the actions you take to solve problems. You can’t control what she says or does.
That said, here are eight tips for solving problems.
5. Use these ground rules.
6. Be willing to bargain or strike a deal.
7. Be ready to walk away if either of you become angry.
8. It might take more than one talk to solve the difference.
08.3
What to Ask
Click to scroll through each of the questions below. Grab a paper and pen to write down your answers if you wish. Take your time.
Tap the arrows to scroll through the questions
Click the arrows to scroll through the questions
Do I have a different parenting approach than does the mother of my children? What aspects of parenting do we approach differently?
What problems do our different approaches cause?
How do the problems between us affect our children? Do our children say and do things that are clearly caused by those problems?
Do I take her view into account when we discuss our problems? How can I do a better job of taking her view into account?
Am I willing to bargain with her when I can’t get the exact outcome I want?
Do we have ground rules that help us solve problems between us?
Get Inspired
Watch this brief video from Ryan Williams.
08.4
Learn More
Be Proactive.
Begin with the End in Mind.
Put First Things First.
Think Win-Win.
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08.5
One of the hardest things for parents is to let go of the way they want to solve a problem. They walk into a talk with the other parent with a closed mind, and walk away with nothing, instead of something they can live with. When you fail to let go, you can end up in a power struggle with the mother of your children. Has that happened to you? Here are some tips to reduce power struggles.
Listen First, Talk Second.
Be Patient.
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