7 Steps To Effective Co-Parenting Meetings And Why You Need Them
Healthy co-parenting begins when both biological parents make their children a top priority in their parental relationship by having a monthly co-parenting meeting.
The purpose of these meetings is to prevent emotional tension from building up between you and your co-parent so external influences do not seep into your parental duties. This decreases the chances of your children becoming the target of your differences, as a specific time is established for making appropriate decisions about the children’s well-being.
Not only do you save yourself from emotional turmoil through collaborative communication but you also protect the relationship with your children. Your children are able to enjoy their childhood years without becoming the messenger of adult conversations between two homes.
And as your children’s lives evolve, it’s important both biological parents are on board and supporting each other, especially during prime developmental years. This supports the children’s mental and emotional health so they can have a healthy relationship with themselves without feeling like they are caught in the middle of a bad storm.
So, how do you establish a monthly meeting with your co-parent?
Ask your co-parent if they are open to scheduling a monthly meeting to support the children’s well-being. You can suggest, how this will maintain a working parenting agreement and avoid mediation or court fees in the future.
Here Are 7 Ways to Have A Collaborative Co-Parenting Meeting:
1.Choose A Neutral Location
It’s important both co-parents feel emotionally comfortable when in the presence of each other. Meeting in each other’s homes can be emotionally unsafe, confusing for your children, and breaking healthy boundaries for the sake of you and your children.
Consider getting a sitter or family member to watch the children while your co-parenting meeting take’s place. The children should not be present at the meeting. And if financial means are tight, consider using a digital platform such as Skype, Zoom or even Video Chat on your phone when the children are at school, in bed or away from the setting of your meeting. Not only does this financially save you childcare fees, it also creates a healthy interaction to protect your privacy.
If you prefer to meet in-person because you have free help to watch the children, consider a coffee shop that’s warm and mellow. This can keep the tension between you and your co-parent at ease while focusing on the agenda.
2. Have An Agenda
Having an agenda in place will be very beneficial to the outcome of your meeting so you and your co-parent can cover all the necessary issues in regards to your children.The purpose of having a structured meeting keeps your relationship business-like and prevents discussing matters outside your monthly meetings. This will help you and your-parent cover all the pressing topics and decision-making without getting off track from the goal.
It’s important to bring any information you may need to discuss topics on the agenda, such as dates, deadlines, travel, events, costs, concerns, medical bills, et al.
Some questions you may ask during your co-parenting meeting:
Will you be traveling or have any work commitments that prevent you having the children during your parenting time this month?
Do you think the children are getting the best education at this time, or do they need to attend a different school to meet their educational needs?
Who will be taking the child to the doctor for their yearly school physical?
Will you be seeking new employment anytime soon that would affect your parental responsibilities?
What nutritional plan do you think is best for our children? Do they have any dietary restrictions that need to be addressed?
What bedtime schedule do you think is best for their health?
What curfew will you have when they are visiting your home?
Would you like to discuss ways to manage consequences for misuse of their driving privileges?
Will you be taking them on a family vacation this year that may impact either of our parenting time?
Anything else you would like to discuss before our next meeting in regards to the children?
Who’s responsible for cell phone bills? Technology items such as computers, iPads, or learning programs?
Are you capable of taking the children to their extracurricular activities on your parenting time?
3. Use Constructive, Calm and Concise Communication
To have a successful meeting, you and your co-parent communication style needs to strive for the 3 C’s: constructive, calm, and concise.
Constructive: Keep the conversation collaborative and positive for you and your co-parent to achieve an agreement for the children. This also prevents from either of you from personally attacking each other if the conversation becomes emotionally heightened, as nothing can be resolved when emotion has escalated. And if emotion becomes heightened, it may be best to reschedule the meeting for another time. However, meeting at a coffee shop can help keep things calm.
Also, avoid making threats to call a lawyer when things reach an impasse. Hire a Family Mediator or Co-Parenting Coach to help come up with a resolution, as it will be your most cost effective option.
Calm: Using a calm tone of voice will allow you and your co-parent to effectively communicate in a respectful manner where each of you actively listen and talk to discuss your children's lives. Studies have proven tone of voice accounts for 90% of conflict, and 10% is only words. When using a calm, medium pitch tone you are likely to do business without making it a stressful situation.
Concise: Having firm and direct points when conversing prevents the conversation going in another direction then intended. It's much easier to understand each other to avoid any misunderstandings when trying to come up with a solution.
4. Keep The Meeting To One Hour
This shows you both respect each other’s time and you are only there to discuss one topic: your children.
When setting up a meeting, try to find the same day and time each month so you and your co-parent are committed to showing up. For example, the first Tuesday at 6pm every month at your local coffee shop between the distance of your two homes.
This eliminates any misunderstandings so you don’t have to continuously discuss a date when to meet. Once again, this keeps your conversations to a minimum and focuses on the agenda.
5. Give Compliments To Encourage A Positive Interaction
If your co-parent comes up with a great solution or pick-ups the kids from school on a day you can’t due to a doctor’s appointment, tell them they are the best “dad” or “mom.” Or if your co-parent takes the kids on a weekend getaway and the kids can’t stop talking about it when in your presence, tell your co-parent what a great idea they had.
The more you cultivate a positive relationship with your co-parent, the more inclined they will work with you as a team player to benefit the children. And hopefully this transfers into the households during parenting time so you create positive relationships for your children with each parent.
At one point you cared for each other in order to have your children, so it’s important you give them a fair chance at life to decide what’s best for them and how they view love, relationships, role models, parental guidance so they can thrive at life.
6. Talk About Any Outside Influences, Like A New Partner
After a separation or a divorce, one co-parent tends to move on quicker than the other forming a new intimate relationship which can create jealousy. Identifying an appropriate time frame of when to introduce the new partner to the children is extremely important so random people don’t come in and out of the children’s lives.
We are striving for a stable environment, and it’s only fair to introduce a new partner when the time is right for the children and everyone is doing emotionally well.
7. Keep All Discussions To Your Scheduled Meetings
Avoid talking about you and your co-parents decisions outside of your monthly meetings. Remember, you are treating this like a business-like relationship. If topics get brought up during pick-ups and drop-offs it can be emotionally burdening for the children. They don’t have the ability to process adult information and it can lead to lots of misunderstandings for them.
If there is a pressing issue, please communicate with your co-parent when the children aren’t present via phone or email. This will keep co-parenting easy and flexible, as well as, ensure your children become strong and stable young adults.
After each monthly meeting, we suggest sending notes via email to your co-parent in order to keep your agreement between the two of you in regards to your decisions. You and your co-parent can take turns, or choose who you feel is best at taking notes and sending them. Also, it may be best practice to sit at a coffee shop with wifi so you can take notes on a computer or ipad as you go, so nothing is left out. This allows you to send immediately prior to partying ways.
If your co-parent isn’t interested in having a monthly meeting, suggest giving it a trial period of scheduling three co-parenting meetings.You can also, send them this article to show them this is to benefit our children so we raise our children and they can have a healthy lifestyle