When Parents Can Cooperatively Coparent

Defining Cooperative Coparenting for parents who are in conflict.

For parents who are willing and able to share the children with each other, we call this “Cooperative coparenting.” Did you know there are actually two types of coparenting?  Most parents and professionals only know about one type of coparenting, which I call “Cooperative Coparenting.”  We call the second type of coparenting “Conflictual Coparenting.”  This is coparenting for parents who cannot work together or “cooperate with each other over the children.

Often your own family, friends, and the court professionals you are working with believe that you must cooperatively coparent with the other parent for the children’s sake so your children will grow up emotionally healthy as adults.  Of course this is the best way to go, but if you cannot work together, no matter how hard you have tried, you probably need to consider the concept of conflictual coparenting for your relationship instead.

First, let’s define “Cooperative Coparenting:”

My definition for cooperative coparenting is based on the idea that the both parents have the willingness and the ability to share make decisions together and they both have a united mindset that they want the same things for the children. (This is not the case for parents who have chronic conflict with each other). It also includes the belief that both parents are important in the children’s lives, even if one parent plays a lesser role for one reason or another.

Here is my official definition for cooperative coparents:

1. Both parents believe that the other parent has the best interests of the children at heart. 2. Both parents believe that the other parent is valuable, worthwhile and important in the children’s life. Both parents believe that the children need to have a relationship with both parents, and both parents actively support that relationship. 3. Although the parents may have disagreements with each other about the issues that need to be resolved, they are both willing and able to work together, (even if it is difficult) in order to reach parenting decisions.  Even when it is “parenting by default,” which means that one parent defers to the other parent for all decision making issues regarding the children, but that parent who defers believes that the other parent is capable of making the parenting decisions and they follow the decision that is made by the other parent. 4. Once the parents have made the parenting decision, they will actively support the decision and each other in that decision. 5. Both parents will do whatever it takes to support the other parent’s relationship with the children.

Do you and the other parent fit into this criteron? Do you support the other parent’s right to be involved in the children’s lives. Do you value the other parent as important to the children?

If you cannot say that you and the other parent fit the cooperative coparenting description for one reason or another, you probably fit into the conflictual coparenting definition instead. We discuss this in another blog. You will need to learn new rules and implement new strategies to eliminate the tension between the two of you, so that you can stop putting your children in the middle. Although you probably will not be able to become cooperative coparents together, you can certainly learn new strategies to eliminate the conflicts between the two of you.  You can learn new strategies by taking an online course at www.ParentsInConflict.com.

The cooperative coparenting style is the only concept that professionals understand, therefore they expect parents who are arguing over their children to learn how to get along. Unfortunately, trying to teach parents who cannot cooperatively coparent to learn to get along is an impossible task, since one of the parents often has a high conflict personality, parental flaws or issues that may be seen as detrimental to the children by at least one of the parents.  We will discuss more about the conflictual coparenting definition in another blog posting.

Parents who can get along probably aren’t reading this article anyway, so the ones who are are parents who are having difficulty working with the other parent and they are seeking information, tools and methods to help them resolve the issues they are experiencing with the other parent. For now, you need to know that parent in conflict need to learn how to disengage from each other not learn to get along. They also need to learn how to redirect their energy away from the other parent and instead use it to connect more closely with their children.

To learn more about the coparenting courses available online, go to www.ParentsInConflict.com/lessons


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