Co-Parenting Business: Top 6 Tips for Supporting Co-Parenting After Separation

‘She doesn’t really want to share childcare; He just wants to get to me!

‘She doesn’t see what this is doing to the children; We don’t communicate anymore…’

‘We were fine sharing childcare until I partnered up again…’

Familiar words from separated or divorced parents: As a family dispute resolution professional, I hear stories of bitter disputes over joint care, child support, and post-separation parenting issues. Parents can get caught up in their own grief and anger at each other, when the separation is still raw and recent. Or perhaps the parents made relatively amicable parenting arrangements, which worked well for years until one parent started a new relationship. All of a sudden all hell broke loose and now it seems the estranged parents can no longer “get on to get along”.

reframe the image

If this picture seems all too familiar to you as a detached parent, it might help if you rephrase it. Instead of grappling with the idea of ​​managing a personal relationship gone wrong, imagine this: Your post-breakup parenting is a business, with you and your ex partner co-managing.

It may seem like assets or liabilities on a balance sheet don’t have much in common with your toddler’s tantrums or your teen’s demands to go to that all-night party. How can a business model help you with the emotional ups and downs of everyday life as a separated parent? Lynn Grodzki, business coach for therapists in private practice, talks about ‘nurturing’ her business like a parent. Well, I’m suggesting that you foster your parenting as a business. To do that, you have to do some planning ahead!

The importance of planning

It is often said that when we fail to plan, we plan to fail, and in an economic downturn, companies must plan carefully to manage risk. Lynn Grodzki describes ‘risk reduction’ as the process of assessing hazards and then taking action to minimize loss or potential loss to your business. As an separated parent, you can do the same, and here’s how to do it. (The following tips are loosely based on Lynn Grodzki’s advice for business owners.)

Six Top Tips for Reducing Parenting Risks After Separation

1. A written ‘business plan’ – Having a written parenting plan or agreement can help you run your parenting business together after a separation. A business plan allows you to review your business practices and goals. A parenting plan allows you to keep track of what you both agreed to do as parents.

2. Keep a cash reserve for operating expenses: This is often easier said than done in tough economic times, for businesses and parents alike. However, in both cases it is worth saving when you can. And just as ‘good will’ is important in business, so it is in parenting. Business owners can put a dollar value on ‘goodwill’ and know how important it is to long-term sustainability. As co-managers of parenting, both parents can accumulate shared reserves of ‘goodwill’ in the way they cooperate as parents. That can give both of you some ’emotional capital’ to fall back on in tough times (see Tip 4).

3. Good record keeping: Many businesses have come to suffer due to poor record keeping. Your co-parenting business will benefit from good written records. Many parents find it helpful to use a communication book that comes and goes as children move from one home to another. (This avoids the risk of passing messages through to your children. Remember, children are not the managers in this business!)

4. Contingency Planning: Average your wins and losses over time; You may have heard of amortizing or depreciating a business cost. That happens when the cost of a real or intangible asset is averaged out or written off over a period of time. As co-parenting managers, you and the other parent may have many years of co-parenting ahead of you until your children are independent adults. It takes energy to endure the discomfort of tough times, when you may feel like you’re ‘trading’ in a hostile environment. It is worth remembering that times can and will change.

5. Self-Care When Business Depends on You: The business of co-parenting relies on each parent’s ability to devote time and energy to their responsibilities. To do that, and to take care of others, you must take care of yourself. A healthy diet, adequate exercise, adequate sleep, and keeping in touch with your doctor for regular checkups as needed; These steps will help you manage the risks of ill health.

6. Keep your insurance current: Some business partners maintain “key person” life insurance between them, if the loss of a business partner could affect the financial security of the business. You may also view your ability to cooperate as parents as “insurance” for your business. The more effectively you can co-parent, the less risk your co-parenting business will go out of business.

Of course, you should also receive legal and financial advice about your individual situation, as necessary. However, these business tips can help you keep your co-parenting business afloat in difficult times and protect your children from exposure to conflict between their parents.

How to make these tips work for you!

*Family dispute resolution is a mediation process that can help you and the other parent talk about your parenting issues and come to a written parenting agreement. A family dispute resolution professional can help you both identify the problems and focus on the best interests of your children.

*A parenting agreement can include issues such as the amount of time each parent spends with the children; communication; transportation arrangements; school vacation arrangements; special days such as Christmas, Easter and other significant family or religious occasions.

*Emails and text messages are useful as written records. If you make verbal arrangements with the other parent, confirm them in a courteous text or email, just as you would in a business setting. It all helps to avoid costly last-minute misunderstandings.

*’Cancel’ some emotional costs over time. If you could bring in all the ‘intangible assets’ of co-parenting over the next five years, as your children get older, your parenting balance sheet could show a gain for your children over time. Try keeping a journal or use the expressive writing exercises described by Dr. James W. Pennebaker in his book ‘Opening: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions’.

*Self care: Join a new activity group or take an adult education class. The ‘down time’ of parenting can replenish your spirit and give you more energy. If you’re feeling depressed, anxious, or angry, talk to your doctor, who can recommend other supports, such as counseling or medication.

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