As any divorced parent knows, co-parenting is no easy feat. It takes a considerable amount of collaboration and agreement to place the child’s needs and best interests first.
It can take a while to grow accustomed to this situation, but even then, children and their needs do not remain the same forever. Parents must continue to adjust their parenting strategies as their child changes. When these changes are significant, parents might have to arrange a meeting to reevaluate their parenting plan and ensure they are on the same page.
When might co-parents have to arrange a meeting?
After a divorce, co-parents all have varying strategies for communication. Some speak regularly, while others prefer to communicate briefly through electronic means. Regardless, there are generally three reasons parents should consider meeting:
- They have a significant concern or disagreement about the other parent’s parenting strategies;
- One or both parents wish to modify the parenting plan, custody agreement or child support payments; or
- Something has come up in the child’s life, and parents must discuss their concerns or decisions for the future together.
Even if the divorce was amicable, parents should still take great care when approaching a meeting with their co-parent.
Approach the co-parent meeting like a business meeting
Of course, one strategy will not work for all families. However, it can be helpful to approach a co-parenting meeting as if it were a business meeting. Using this strategy, parents should:
- Keep things professional: Thinking of a co-parent meeting like a business meeting can help parents set the past and negative emotions aside, which allows them to stay on task and ensure they are meeting the child’s needs.
- Create an agenda ahead of time: Communicate before the meeting and share an agenda of concerns, topics to discuss and new ideas for the future. This ensures that the meeting has a specific goal and focus. Having an agenda is also critical because parents should not spring things on the other parent at the meeting, which could cause both parents to become defensive. It also allows both parents to prepare for the meeting both mentally and emotionally.
- Treat the co-parent like a colleague: Co-parents are in fact colleagues, as they must work together to parent their child and meet their needs. This mindset can help ensure that parents act respectfully towards each other, even if they disagree.
- Schedule follow-up meetings: One meeting also allows parents to plan for the next meeting. For example, if co-parents meet to discuss how their child is struggling in school, they can make a plan to help their child and check in on their progress at the next meeting.
When parents treat interactions they have with their ex-spouse like they would one with a colleague, both the meetings and parenting can be much more productive in the long run.