Strengthening the Co-Parenting Team

by Connie Saindon, M.A, Licensed Marital & Family Therapist

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It is rare to hear from families that they have worked out their parenting roles and responsibilities. Both struggle to achieve satisfaction, keeping in mind what is in the best interest of their children.

Parents are heard to complain:

"It's not fair!"
"I used to help more, but she criticized everything."
"With him out to sea so often, I feel I'm parenting alone even though I'm married."
"He thinks he's helping, but I still end up doing almost everything."
"I come home and the house is a mess, and she still expects me to do half the housework."
"He says he'll help but instead he's addicted to TV ( sports, computer)."

Sound Familiar?

It is rare to hear a couple report that they have a great parenting team that works. Most problems begin to show up when children enter school. First signs can begin to be noticed in daycare or pre-school. Children's problems can be a clue to parent-team problems. Children may be put in the middle when Mom and Dad disagree. They may have difficulty agreeing about who does what, when, where, and how often.

Couples from every walk of life and economic level have difficulty negotiating a healthy balance of fairness in their parenting roles and responsibilities. Such problems can lead to children with a poor self-image, behavior problems, or the unhealthy siding with one parent. If you are an only parent, find someone to partner with. If the child's other parent is not an option, the choice could be a neighbor, a family friend or a counselor. Don't parent alone.

What percentage of the house work do you do? Your Partner?

What percentage of the housework do think you should do?

What percentage of the housework do you think your partner expects you to do?

How much time do you spend with your children per week in approximate hours?

How much of that time is taking care of tasks with them?

How much of that time does your partner take care of tasks with your children?

How much of that time is spent disciplining them?

How much of the time does your partner spend disciplining them?

How much of that time do you enjoy them?

How often do you and your partner agree on the rules for children?

How often do you keep the rules that you and your partner agree on?

How often do you think your partner keeps the rules that you both agree on?

What percentage of time do you and your partner give the same consequence to an unwanted behavior?

Does your partner complain that you are too rough on the children?

Does your partner complain that you are too easy with the children?

Do you wish your partner would yell less?

Do you wish your partner would spank less?

Do you wish your partner was less involved?

Do you wish your partner was more involved?

Seven Guidelines for Co-parenting

1. Work on one change at a time.
2. Brainstorm solutions.
3. Change criticism of partner's solutions to "accepting differences."
4. Compromise.
.5. If a compromise isn't reasonable, alternate each other's solution a day, week, month at a time.
6. Be flexible, if it doesn't work, try new solutions.
7. Not all solutions will be easy, the importance here is "two-heads" are better than one. If your struggle continues, it may be time to call a professional counselor or attend a parenting class.

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Connie Saindon, MA is a Licensed Marital & Family Therapist and Certified Trauma Specialist in private practice in San Diego, California. In addition, she is the Trauma Editor for Selfhelp & Psychology Magazine


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