Team parenting is about having a shared approach to parenting, even when the parents don’t live together. It includes having similar approaches to everything from bedtime to how to handle discipline, and supporting one another in those choices. Team parenting can make the daily challenges of parenting so much easier, by helping your child understand consistent routines and boundaries, wherever they might be.
Some families find being on the same page when it comes to parenting styles and choices can be challenging, especially for those who are divorced or separated. Though it might take a bit of effort from both parents, it is possible to work as a team to be strong, supportive, consistent parents for your child.
And it all starts with communication.
Effective communication is key to team parenting
When you parent as a team, you are modeling healthy relationships, and supporting your child’s emotional well-being. After all, you both have the common goal of raising your child to be healthy, happy and successful. Keep this common goal foremost in your mind anytime you discuss parenting with each other.
As parents, being able to communicate openly, without judgement or criticism, can help with problem-solving and managing challenges. Here are some communication points to keep in mind:
- Understand each other’s basic ideas or values about parenting. Talk about it or take a parenting class together. You may have some different ideas or values, but the key is in finding common ground, and making your children’s lives consistent.
- Know and respect each other’s specific family and cultural history. What traditions do you want to keep in your household? What would you like to add or change? Supporting each other’s choices and practices models respect for your children’s heritage and sense of belonging.
- Come to a decision on “daily” issues or rules, such as bedtime, meals, or screen time. If you disagree, find a middle ground. If it is impossible for these daily activities to look the same across both households, try to have similar expectations.
- Avoid criticizing or complaining about the other parent to your children or within earshot of them. Be constructive, provide feedback, and keep your adult discussions private.
- We all make mistakes. Offer each other some grace. Let your children see your sincere apology when needed.
- Appreciate each other’s viewpoints and needs. Be flexible and see where you both can compromise.
- When it comes to discussions about your child, put aside your own feelings of anger, hurt, or resentment toward your former partner—put your child’s well-being first.
Even with lots of communication and shared agreements, there are bound to be arguments and struggles. When possible, discuss parenting issues, especially major ones, when you are both calm. It’s important for children to see that their parents are united and working as a team. Stability and consistency make children feel safe and confident. This could include:
- Aim for a consistent daily schedule in both households.
- Follow similar systems of consequences for broken rules.
- Strive to maintain similar rules in each household.
At the end of the day, it comes down to child-centered decision making. Communicate what your values and ideas are about parenting. Support each other by agreeing about general rules, guidelines and discipline. Compromise and be flexible about places you don’t agree. Your child will benefit if she or he sees your family as a team working together.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com).