Co-parenting or shared parenting is the practice of raising a child together without the parents being romantically involved. This is a common practice in the United States. Whether the parents are divorced, whether they dated one another previously or are two people who simply made the choice to have a child together, there are ways to raise that child to be happy, healthy and well-adjusted.
Before you can raise your child together, you must come up with a plan as to how it will work. One of the biggest decisions concerns living arrangements. Whether you are a former couple or you are two friends who have decided to share the ups and downs of parenting, you need to decide when and where the child will be spending his time. This decision should be based upon what is in the best interest of the child, not necessarily what is easiest for the parents.
Good communication is key to making co-parenting work. Both parents must be committed to being open and honest with one another. Even if the relationship is strained, the parents need to be pleasant to one another around their child. When a stressful situation arises, it's best to stay calm and handle any disagreements by talking them out and working on a solution together. Don't just talk, listen as well. Try to understand his or her point of view and do not overreact when your buttons are being pushed. Show restraint and stay focused on doing what is best for your child.
When you are parenting as a team, you have to work like a team. You both must stay consistent when it comes to setting expectations and rules for your child. Even if the rules are not the same with each parent, you need to set general guidelines to follow regarding lifestyle rules. Both parents must discipline similarly and maintain that discipline over time. If your child has broken a rule with one parent and has privileges taken away, the same consequences apply at the other parent's house. Another important part of working as a team involves schedules. Children need routines. So, both parents should follow a similar schedule with their child when it comes to things like meal times and bed times.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Just like with other parenting situations, there are both advantages and disadvantages to raising a child together without having a romantic relationship. One advantage is that you have a partner to help you raise your child but might not have any romantic drama to get in the way of working together as a team. You also get more time to yourself if you are splitting parenting duties. Of course this could be a disadvantage as well, since you will be away from your child more often if you are raising your child in two separate homes. Another disadvantage is that your child may feel like he is missing out on something if he doesn't have his mommy and daddy living together in one home, like many other kids do. This is when you have to explain why his mom and dad are not a couple.