So, after 2 years of my husband and I actively co-parenting with my ex and his wife, these are the Top 5 Benefits we came up with.
- Less Stress – This is possibly the best benefit of them all! Stress has been proven in several scientific studies to be in directly correlation with various health and mental problems. Reducing the stress in your life and your children’s lives will benefit everyone’s overall health and wellbeing. Children that are constantly subjected to the bickering and negativity of their parents’ failed relationship suffer loss of appetite, lack of sleep, act out in school, and often need years of counseling as adults. Children that are in a less stressful situation are happier, more active, and are, overall, well adjusted.
- Children learn healthy ways to handle conflict – Let’s face it. Conflict is a part of life. We start dealing with conflict very early on, but how we learn to manage conflict will shape our lives in profound ways. Conflict will arise in school with peers, in the workplace with co-workers, and in relationships of all kinds. Companies pay for Professional Speakers to come into the workplace and hold seminars to educate their employees on positive ways to handle conflict in the workplace. Adults go to Conventions and Self Help Clinics to learn skills in managing conflict in their personal relationships. What better way to teach your kids on how to handle conflict in a healthy way than to show them first hand? If our children see us handling conflict in a positive way, they are more likely to mimic our behaviors.
- Easier to manage Activities and Education – How many times has your child looked at you with their beautiful eyes while you’re tucking them in bed and they say, “Oh yeah, by the way, I have a project due on Friday”! And it is already Wednesday! When you ask them why they didn’t tell you before, they say, “It was in my folder last week”. Well, you didn’t get the memo, the other parent didn’t tell you about it, and now you’re going to have to make an extra trip to the store to get supplies for the project. I am always hearing stories from parents about finding out about their children’s activities and education related information on short notice or not at all. This is typical in divorced families that have a hard time communicating effectively. Setting up a calendar or parent folder that both parents are held accountable for makes for an easy start to being able to keep up with information concerning your child(ren). This keeps all their information together and is easily transferrable to each home. Try it!
- Shared Responsibility – Our visitation for our children is on a week on / week off schedule, but regardless of your visitation schedule, I have found that open communication and actively co-parenting with your ex enables each parent to share in the responsibilities of raising a child. In conversations with other parents, it seems as though one parent typically feels like they do everything and the other parent just gets to be the fun one. I do find this more when one parent has the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend visitation schedule, however, it is a concern of any parent that feels they are always the one to pick the kids up when their sick, always the one to go to teacher/parent conferences, always the one to do the homework, etc. Parents that effectively communicate and co-parent together do not have these problems, regardless of visitation schedules. That is because they are able to communicate with the other parent. It is not uncommon for these types of parents to simply call each other to work out who will be there for conference, who will pick up the kids, and so on. Nobody wants to be the parent “doing it all” and in return, nobody wants to be the parent “never doing anything”. Both parents and their children greatly benefit from having both parents show interest and share in the day to day responsibilities of raising a child. Now that’s cooperative co-parenting at it’s best!
- Kids are happier! – My children made me put this as the last benefit! They said, “That the best thing about their parents being able to co-parent together is that they are HAPPY”. And I couldn’t agree more. I wanted to separate this from Less Stress because I think it’s important to point out how much it positively affects the kids. Even if you don’t start co-parenting until they are older, they still benefit and will end up a happier person. I’ll never forget the look of happiness on my eldest daughters face when she looked out into the audience at her band concert and saw her whole family (Mom, Dad, Step Mom, Step Dad, Grandparents on both side, and the rest of her family) all sitting together to show support for HER. After all, it is about THEM and not US. Co-parenting with my ex in a positive way is the best thing I ever did for my kids!