COOPERATIVE PARENTING: THE NUMBER ONE PARENTING
THE DO'S AND DONT'S OF
DO encourage your child to
spend time with the other parent.
DON'T deny access to the other parent for no
DO let the other parent spend time with the
child when you are not available.
DON'T purposely schedule the child to be
elsewhere when you are not available and you
know the other parent is.
DO be flexible in making changes in the
schedule. Children grow and change on a daily,
monthly and yearly basis. Be responsive to their
DON'T tell the other parent that the child
cannot come to the telephone when you know he or
DO encourage your child to telephone the other
parent when he or she is with you. The other
parent will return the favor when the child is
with him or her.
DO talk to the other parent and work together to
facilitate both parents' time with the child. Be
especially cooperative during holidays and
special times such as birthdays. Remember you
are creating lasting memories for your child;
help ensure they are good memories.
DON'T fight over scheduling in front of the
DO speak positively about the other parent in
front of the child; you can always find a
positive aspect of the other parent.
DON'T bad-mouth the other parent in front of the
child; no matter what personal animosity you
have about the other parent. Children have an
annoying habit of loving BOTH of their parents!
Your efforts to alienate the child from the
other parent may backfire on you when the child
realizes what has been done to his or her
relationship with one of the two most important
people in his or her life. When you denigrate a
child's parent, you are denigrating the child,
who is a product of both parents.
DO tell your child you love and cherish him or
her, and reassure him or her that this has not
changed due to the divorce.
DO praise your child when he or she does well or
behaves well. Do so in front of the child and
the other parent.
DON'T allow your child to denigrate the other
parent. Encourage him or her to speak positively
about the other parent. If he or she is having a
problem with the other parent, help your child
solve the problem.
DON'T discuss financial issues with or in front
of the children. Do not allow them to see court
documents or overhear you discussing the legal
DON'T leave messages for the other parent on his
or her answering machine that might upset the
child. Children often overhear messages, or may
have access to voice mail.
DO make an effort to stay geographically close
to the child's other parent, existing schools,
neighborhoods and extended family.
DO keep a set of clothing, school books and
supplies, and your child's favorite things at
each home. Facilitate the child's transfer of
items between homes when necessary.
DON'T be petty or possessive about things you
have purchased for the child. If you have given
an item to your child, let him or her take it to
the other parent's home.
DON'T keep score on every little thing you pay
for. Not every financial contribution needs to
be reimbursed or matched by the other parent.
DO exchange school records and information with
the other parent. If possible, ask the school to
send duplicate information to each parent.
DO attend school conferences together, if
possible. Teachers are usually very pleased to
see divorced parents attend the same conference.
Make an effort to attend as many conferences as
possible. Talk to the teachers about your
child's progress, and frequently discuss this
with the other parent.
DO coordinate the child's school work and
projects with the other parent.
DO remain in close contact with the child's
teachers, counselors and medical providers, and
keep the other parent informed of any
information. Try to coordinate appointments so
at least one parent can accompany the child.
DO make an effort to meet your child's friends
and their parents. It is important to keep up on
your child's activities, especially when the
child lives in two different homes. Let other
parents know you are an active and involved
DO talk to the other parent about problems the
child may be experiencing or difficulties
between you and the child. Children can be very
adept at taking advantage of conflict and lack
of communication between parents.
DO be accessible to the other parent. Give him
or her your work and home numbers, pagers, voice
mail, etc. If you don't like to talk to the
other parent, use letters, faxes or e-mails.
Provide a list of emergency contacts for the
other parent and the child.
DON'T engage in game-playing in contacting or
responding to the other parent. Respond promptly
when necessary. Be open and up front about
issues that need to be discussed.
DO encourage the child's relationship with
extended family, on both parents' sides. Be
pleasant and cordial to the other parent's
DO involve each parent's spouse or significant
other in issues relating to the children.
Step-parents are important members of your
child's family: they serve as an authority
figure, role model, and friend for your child.
And don't get hung up on labels. If your child
begins to call a step-parent "mom" or "dad,"
don't be offended. Be pleased that your child
can form emotional attachments to other people
and that there are more people in the world who
love and care for him or her.
DO coordinate with the other parent on
discipline issues. Decide in advance on
acceptable methods of discipline, and which
methods both parents will use. Be consistent in
both households. Present a united front.
DON'T undermine the other parent's authority
with the child. If the other parent has imposed
reasonable restrictions or discipline on the
child, continue those measures at your
residence. Let the child know he or she cannot
escape consequences of his or her actions by
seeking shelter at the other parent's home.
DO decide in advance on what extra-curricular
activities the child will be allowed to
participate in. Both parents should support
mutually agreed activities. Both parents should
attend the child's events and show mutual
support for the child.
DO decide in advance on how you and the other
parent will deal with alcohol, drugs, curfews,
dating, driving, clothing choices, allowances,
home safety and security (latch-keys) and the
child's independence and privacy. Don't argue
over these issues in front of the child; agree
on the boundaries in advance and stick to them.
Agree to revisit them periodically, in special
meetings with both parents and step-parents.
Older adolescents should be involved in setting
and re-setting limits.
DON'T discuss residual issues relating to the
divorce, or dwell on anger or disappointments
either parent suffered. Focus on the common
ground of raising a healthy, well-adjusted child
DO discuss issues civilly and reasonably. Be
cordial. Treat the other parent with kindness
and respect. If the other parent is not ready to
do this, reach out to him or her. Be the first
to offer an olive branch. Children learn by
example. Be aware of what messages you are
sending to your child about dealing with other
DON'T make exchanges of the child a negative
event. Don't simply drop the child off at the
curb in front of the other parent's house and
speed away. Make an effort to go to the door,
exchange friendly words with the other parent,
and wish your child a warm goodbye. Don't
telegraph real or imagined agony over leaving
the child with the other parent. Your child
should never be made to feel guilty about
spending time there.
DO listen to yourself. Examine what you are
saying and how this could affect the other
DO listen to the other parent. Try to understand
where he or she is coming from.
DO perform unsolicited good deeds for the other
parent. You will receive return dividends
10-fold. Occasionally exchange gifts, even if
token, at Christmas or other special times. The
good will you create could last a lifetime.
DO practice the Golden Rule: If you have
majority time, don't abuse the position. Treat
the other parent the way you would want to be
treated if you were the non-majority parent. You
may experience that role before your child
reaches age 18. Think carefully how you would
want to be treated by the other parent, and how
it would affect your relationship with your
Copyright © 2006-2011 Lisa Scott. All Rights Reserved.