Although this is the goal for many couples, often it does not turn out this way and they find themselves learning a new way of parenting while living apart.
There are many different ways to parent separately, but co-parenting is what we are discussing today.
Co-parenting is a shortened term for “cooperative parenting” and is described by Your Dictionary as:
“A process where two parents work together to raise a child even though they are divorced or separated and no longer live together.”
The key here is that even though the parents have separated they work together to raise their children. It is not to be confused with parallel parenting where separated couples parent their own way with no or little interaction with the other parent.
As you can imagine, co-parenting is more favourable for the children involved as having mum and dad on the same page brings stability, consistency and clear boundaries, even across two homes.
Here are eight benefits of co-parenting your children when you separate. Hopefully they will help you see a successful way through the parenting journey to raise happy, healthy kids, even when you separate.
1. ROLE MODEL A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP (AGAINST THE ODDS)
As a parent, you are the default role model for your children and this remains the same when you separate.
Learning to co-parent is a great way to demonstrate to your children how you overcome challenges and what a healthy, low-conflict relationship can look like.
Further reading: How to give and gain respect during your separation.
2. TWO FAMILIES, TWO SETS OF FRIENDS, TWO SUPPORT SYSTEMS
As co-parented children live between two homes it can double the number of resources a child is exposed to.
Each home will have a different family environment and extended family, as well as different friends living nearby. This will ultimately create two support systems.
The more people to love and care for your children, the better.
Further reading: How to help children live between two homes after divorce.
3. STONGER SIBLING LOVE
In many cases where children are co-parented and live between two homes, sibling bonds can become stronger.
The reason for this is because they are the only people who are living through their reality and they are always together, whichever home they are living at (in most cases).
Such close, shared experiences can serve to make them tighter as they support one another through a mutual understanding of their coparented world.
4. A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF LIFE
It can be incredibly difficult for children to go through a family separation.
Yet, they will learn and grow from the experience.
Not only that, but they will also accept that real life is not like the adverts on TV and that there is no standard way to be ‘happy’. Most importantly, they will understand that families come in all shapes and sizes, and no one particular way is right.
5. BETTER QUALITY TIME WITH EACH PARENT
Having both parents around all the time might seem like the idyllic option, yet there are advantages to sharing time between them.
As a co-parent, taking time away from your children can allow you to recharge and prepare for your kids return home, allowing time spent with them to be higher quality and more engaged.
For your children, getting the best of mum and dad can develop different, possibly closer, relationships with each parent.
6. TWO HAPPY HOMES
The prelude to a family separation often involves an extended period of family stress and sadness as your relationship unravels and your children bear witness to it. It can be likened to living under a black cloud.
Therefore, making the decision to separate and to co-parent extracts your children from an unhappy home into what will hopefully become two happy homes!
7. BETTER ORGANISATION
Anyone who co-parents will know that moving children and their belongings at changeover time is like a military operation. Everyone involved must be super organised.
Although this might sound like a bore, it helps children learn to be organised from a young age.
Good organisational habits can help in every area of their life, including schooling. It can even relieve stress and promote sleep.
Further reading: 7 Ways to make co-parenting changeovers work for the kids and you.
8. SPECIAL OCCASIONS X 2 EVERY YEAR
Finally, the most important point … for your kids anyway!
Having two homes and two families means two lots of celebrations of Christmas and birthdays.
And there isn’t a kids alive who wouldn’t want this!