Sometimes divorce, separation or break ups can be down right bitter. We are often times so focused on the hurt and pain that our significant other has caused, that we lose sight of the children and what’s best for them. When cooler heads prevail and you can think more clearly, at some point, the two of you need to focus on the child(ren), their fragile state and how you can amicably come together with their interest in mind.
Whether you’re a newly single parent or now blending your family, there needs to be some type of “child-centered” agreement. Believe it or not, it’s especially important to do so when you decide to blend your family, so that you will know what is expected of whom and when, at any given time. Remember (and sometimes it’s HARD) put your personal feelings aside and think of your child(ren).
Here is a sample of a co-parenting contract that you might to consider. **DISCLAIMER** We all have to be realistic and understand that we will, under no circumstances, put our children in any dangerous situations. This is only intended as a tool or a guide and the betterment of the children, should it become necessary.
As parents of (insert child’s name), we will hereby agree wholeheartedly to the commitment of co-parenting them by doing the following:
I will not, under any circumstances, keep [non-custodial parent] from seeing our child simply because I am upset, trying to prove a point, or have the intent to sabotage. (Really…think about it…who are you hurting?)
I will communicate with my ex about all aspects of my child’s development. (If you are re-married, keep these conversations short and to the point.)
If I plan to re-marry, I will negotiate and agree on the role that the new step-parent will play in the life of our child. (Be fair and rationale. Do not force any relationships. Let them happen naturally. Do not try to replace a non-custodial parent.)
I will show up for visits when promised and I will keep any and all promises made to my child, to the best of my ability. (This is extremely important. Self-explanatory.)
I will make as many milestone events such as birthdays, recitals, graduations, etc. and not to be limited to such. (Do your best to make PTA meetings, parent-teacher conferences and everything in between if you can.)
I will negotiate and agree on the role that a new step-parent will play in the life of our child. (Be honest and fair about what you are willing to negotiate. If you don’t want another man/woman raising your child…BE THERE!)
We will not burden our child with our ADULT issues and things that they cannot control. (Children are not built for this. Nor do they deserve it. Let them be kids!)
We will not talk badly or disrespectfully in or out of the presence of one another, while in front of our child. (No matter how badlly you may want to do this, DO NOT! It confuses them and adds more negative emotions for them to deal with on top of other things.)
We will focus our efforts on what our child needs most during this difficult time – which is love, feelings of security and safety, as well as the freedom from feeling guilt or blame that they are the reason that their parents are no longer together. (Reassure them, in word and in deed, that things are going to be OK!)
The basis of the contract is simple: commitment, understanding and respect…POINT BLANK! Feel free to use this tool and even modify it to fit your situation, but no matter what you do…THINK OF THE CHILDREN!
BMWK, Can you think of any additions to the co-parenting contract?