Studies and surveys show that equal shared parenting after divorce or separation is often in a child’s best interests. And many parents are willing or eager to share parenting time and responsibilities.
That said, the increasing support for equal shared parenting across Canada does not necessarily mean these arrangements are easy for parents to adapt to. Challenges can arise, but there are ways to overcome them.
Challenge: You have different parenting styles
There are countless approaches to parenting, from gentle parenting to authoritative. If you and your ex have different styles in areas like discipline, household chores and academic expectations, you can end up arguing and confusing your child.
Solution: Find common ground
You don’t have to parent the same way when you co-parent. There can be benefits to all parenting styles, so try to agree on what those are.
You might also discuss certain areas where you will present a united front and where you plan to make compromises. Establishing boundaries and recognizing differences can help parents work together, even when they parent separately.
Challenge: Not following the rules
Your parenting plan provides the direction and rules for sharing parenting time and making decisions. Unfortunately, parents do not always follow these rules. If you or your ex are not sticking to the schedule or sharing duties responsibly, disputes can arise.
Solution: Get back to basics
Going back to the parenting plan can be an excellent place to start when these situations arise. Review the document and see what it says regarding rules and procedures for addressing violations.
If necessary, you can also talk to a lawyer about how to about enforcing the terms of it.
Challenge: Adapting to change
Over time, your child’s needs and wants will change; your circumstances will change; your relationship with the other parent will change. Adapting to all these changes in the context of parenting can be immensely difficult, and parents can clash over what to do in light of these changes.
Solution: Consider modification
You can pursue a modification of your plans if they no longer reflect your situation or align with your wishes and those of your child. You may do so cooperatively or by going to court.
Equal shared parenting has tremendous benefits but isn’t always easy. These tips can help you address and overcome these challenges respectfully and effectively. And just in case you might need a bit of solid social science research to back you up, click here for the updated Myths and Truths document about Equal Shared Parenting.