How To Co-Parent Like Business Partners
"It's not personal; it's business."
You don't have to like your former spouse/partner to co-parent your children with an approach that adheres to respect, proactive communication, and clear boundaries. You can be successful business partners, a.k.a. co-parents, but outside of that realm, create and live out your personal lives without the involvement of one another.
How to Begin?
According to Cooperative Parenting and Divorce (1997), the following six guidelines are an excellent place to start and reflect on your current attitudes and approaches, which can be learned and applied.
Business partners have a common goal and a common purpose. In the same light, the common purpose and goal for co-parents are to raise children who are emotionally and physically healthy.
Business partners are committed to a win-win relationship. In a business partnership, as long as the two partners are committed to a win-win for each other, the business can continue to thrive for the long haul. Yet, once a partner chooses to win over the other, the partnership deteriorates or breaks down. As co-parenting partners, if the ongoing commitment to successfully raise the children and each co-parent's needs are met to keep the child's success going, your goal will have longevity.
Business partners can negotiate differences when they disagree or a new circumstance arises. In business, sudden issues may arise: changes in cost, vendor delays, schedule in appointments, etc. As co-parents, you are aware of the sudden changes children need often occur. As your children grow older, the demands and sudden changes will increase. Then, blend this in with co-parents' employment demands, new relationship demands, and life in general. Flexibility as co-parents is a strength that will benefit the goal of raising thriving, healthy, secure, and functioning children. 'Co-parents in a business relationship negotiate (acceptable solutions) in good faith so that both are winners and the children never lose.'
Business patterns work to limit their relationship to specific topics and objectives. For example, a business owner may discuss fees and schedules with a vendor but would not discuss the qualifications of a new hire. As co-parents, this principle also applies. The relationship or financial decisions each co-parent makes are no longer the other partner's business. This area is a difficult pill to swallow. However, once the decision to part ways in a romantic capacity, and as long as each co-parent maintains their responsibility to raise the children that meet the common goal, you are no longer privileged to know the other's personal decisions made in their personal life and time.
Business partners observe common courtesies. Business partners practice courtesies in their approach to business. For example, communication is maintained between working business hours established, speech (tone, volume) should be pleasant, requests are made rather than demands, and information is shared rather than hoarded. The approach ensures that each partner wins, has respectful exchanges, maintains boundaries, and achieves the common purpose. As co-parents, common courtesies can assist in maintaining the goal of raising healthy, safe, and well-functioning children. If there is a sudden change in the children's schedule, one parent notifies the other. If a topic needs to be discussed, co-parents schedule a time to discuss it. Co-parents shared information rather than hoard information about the children. And communication speech is also maintained to continue the approach of respect and boundaries.
Business partners communicate facts, not feelings. 'Sarcasm, whining, demanding, placating, moralizing, advising and complaining will only reduce the chances of a satisfactory outcome to the discussion.' Co-parents continue to win-win when they communicate facts, not personal feelings. Your former spouse/partner is no longer responsible for emotional support. The role of co-parents is to continue working together to meet the goal of raising successful, healthy children as business partners, not romantic partners. 'When emotions are set aside, the two people can better work toward solving any outstanding problems.'
Divorce can feel ongoing long after it's officially signed, sealed, and delivered; however, you can pick up the pieces. Practicing the steps mentioned above can ensure that despite personal feelings towards one another as former spouses, your children continue to experience safety, security, and understanding from mom and dad.
Check out our blog, Co-Parenting: 3 Stages In Learning to Let Go After Divorce, to enhance further your innate capacity to be a dynamite co-parent business partner!
'Removing emotions from communication does not mean denying them. Find another time or place to express them safely where they will be less likely to negatively influence the co-parenting relationship and your child.
~Cooperative Parenting and Divorce
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Boyan, S.B. (M.Ed., L.M.F.T.) and Termini, A.M. (M.S., L.P.C.) (1997). Choosing My Personal Path. Cooperative Parenting and Divorce "Shielding Your Child From Conflict," A Parent Guide to Effective Co-Parenting (pp. 69-71). Active Parenting Publishers, Inc.