When a marriage ends it doesn’t always end in mutual friendship between the former spouses. Separation and divorce usually takes a toll all those involved. Between family interventions, child custody, finances along with other issues that have to be settled there usually is a lot of anger and animosity between the parties. Ex-spouses aren’t good at ‘getting along’. Well at least not at first anyway. Yet the ability of exes to get along is a key to the success of a new step-family.
When one or both of these ex-spouses remarry or start to date then the challenge gets even bigger and increases the tension making co-parenting harder. A stepparent who becomes a part of the childrens lives starts out with no relationship to the child’s other biological parent; if anything there is hostility.
Ideally, the biological parents and the stepparents from both households should think of co-parenting as some sort of “parenting coalition”. They all have to let go of their egos and set their differences aside and work together for the good of the children. After all, it is about the kids and not them. From the word go, the new couple needs to work together and talk about how they will make certain family decisions that involve the children and clearly map out the roles. While some roles can be executed immediately some will involve a lot of time especially for the stepparent to ease into e.g discipline.
Stepparents need to be involved in their spouses parenting as opposed to interfering. For example the stepparents can be included in family decisions and whatever input they may have considered even though in some cases the final decision will rest on the biological parents. This inclusion goes a long way in fostering family unity. Stepparents must also support and respect the parenting duties not just of their spouse but that of their spouses ex as well. They need to respect the fact that there will always be a co-parenting bond between their spouse and their ex. This relationship is necessary for the children.
What makes all come together is respect for everyone in this dynamic family. Respect between stepparents and their stepchildren, between the ex-spouses and also between the stepparents and the other biological parent. This is the only way that co-parenting tasks can be accomplished successfully. Children are quick to pick up hints of hostility on either side and they can use this to play the adults off each other. Worse still they can adopt whatever bad behavior is on display and carry on with life doing the same and thinking it ok to do so.
Strive therefore to have cordial respectful relationships and you will see co-parenting become a lot easier.