February 27th, 2024

Dos and Don’ts of Co-Parenting

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Author: Samantha Y. Chan, Sondra M. Douglas

Effective co-parenting involves navigating a delicate balance between shared responsibilities and respectful communication, all while dealing with some strong emotions. Open and honest communication becomes a crucial ally, with conversations focusing on your child’s continued well-being.

It’s important to note that these dos and don’ts are crafted with a typical co-parenting scenario in mind. If your situation involves complex issues such as domestic violence, addiction, or mental health challenges, these suggestions may need adjustment. A legal professional can provide tailored guidance, helping you navigate the intricacies of your specific circumstances. An attorney can also assist in identifying strategies that ensure that the legal aspects of your co-parenting arrangement are appropriately addressed.


  • Communicate openly and honestly with your co-parent, and keep the conversations focused on decisions regarding the health, welfare, education, medical, mental health, and social needs of the child.
  • Create a shared calendar that keeps track of children’s events, school activities and doctor’s appointments.
  • Be punctual to exchanges and pick a safe location (school, playground, coffee shop, other parent’s house if appropriate).
  • Be patient and understanding of the other parent; emergencies happen and everyone is human and makes mistakes. Rarely are mistakes earth-shattering or life-changing. Take it easy, everyone is trying their best. Model kindness, tolerance, compromise, flexibility and grace.
  • Try to align co-parenting rules and strategies on bedtimes, extracurricular activities, education and social media access.
  • Have a contingency plan for what to do in the event you and the other parent come to an impasse regarding a decision about the child (i.e. agree to use a mediator to facilitate, utilize a parent coordinator).
  • Support and facilitate your child’s relationship with the other parent and extended family; try to encourage positivity for all of the children’s relationships.
  • Discuss childcare options and utilize the same childcare when possible to create consistency and routine for the children.
  • Attempt to live in close proximity so that that children may experience their community of friends and activities in both parents’ homes, and easily retrieve a forgotten item.
  • Ensure each party has access to extracurricular and educational online platforms and utilize these tools.
  • Have a plan on when to discuss with or introduce new romantic partners to the children.

Effective co-parenting isn’t just about the dos; it also involves steering clear of potential pitfalls. Things like disparaging the other parent in the presence of the child or asking the child to communicate with the other parent on your behalf can have an impact on your child.


  • Don’t discuss the divorce process in the presence of the children.
  • Don’t delegate authority to the child that belongs to the adults.
  • Don’t refuse to share information, contact information, reports, records, activities, schedules, etc.
  • Don’t insist that the child not communicate with the other parent just because it’s “your time.”
  • Don’t introduce a new romantic partner without first discussing with the other parent.
  • Don’t hide or shield information about the child from the other parent.
  • Don’t ask the child to tell you information about the other parent’s household, parenting tactics, etc.
  • Don’t schedule events, activities during the other parent’s time unless specifically agreed to.

In the co-parenting journey, the spotlight is on your child. Focus on patience, flexibility, and a shared vision for your child’s future.