Raising a child without being in a relationship is a great alternative for those looking to become parents, while avoiding the complications of being romantically involved. A co-parent’s relationship is more likely to be stable and involve less conflict. This help’s to ensure the child’s welfare, as well as to enable them to have a healthy relationship with each of their parents.
Working to make co-parenting a success starts even before the conception of your child. It begins from the moment you are looking for a co-parent. In addition to having the essential qualities of a great parent (being loving, responsible and trustworthy, to name just a few), you and your co-parent must be a good match, get along well and be able to communicate effectively.
Look for a like-minded co-parent
The key to successful co-parenting starts from the beginning, right from the moment you search for a person willing to co-parent with you. You need to look for a like-minded person who shares the same desire to have a baby, as well as the same values and goals. It’s essential that you take your time to find the right person to raise a child with. You can look for your co-parent using CoParents’ large database, as well as consult our guides to find useful tips and advice.
Write a co-parenting agreement
Some parents find writing a co-parent agreement useful to help them raise their child. This document should be written before conception, or before birth at the latest, to make sure each party agrees when it comes to the most important decisions and to help avoid future disagreements. Its purpose is to describe the aspiring parents’ intentions concerning how to raise their child. Keep in mind that your child’s needs always come first. You can be helped by an attorney, a therapist or by using a template on the internet.
A co-parenting agreement should include and describe:
– Each parent’s rights and responsibilities towards the child;
– Financial arrangements;
– Who the legal parents will be;
– Who will take the major decisions;
– Shared custody arrangements and how you organize vacations;
– Childcare, education or religious intentions concerning your child.
– Health, vaccination.
Communicate efficiently with your co-parent
Not being in a romantic relationship may allow you to avoid the disputes and arguments that couples or ex-couples may have. However, raising a child is no piece of cake and you should be prepared. You need to make sure that you and your co-parent can handle problems together and are able to take the best decisions for your child.
When searching for a co-parent online or within your circle of acquaintances, look for someone you can effectively communicate with. Writing a co-parenting agreement might be a good test to see whether you can tackle differences of opinion and make compromises.Later, once your baby is born and throughout their childhood, it’s advised to talk regularly to your co-parent about your child’s schooling, appointments, shared custody or anything else that is relevant to your child’s life and routine.
It’s important to always keep an open dialogue and chat regularly, either when you pick your child up, or via phone and e-mails. If you are friends and have a great relationship with your co-parent, arrange regular dates or holidays where parents and children can meet and spend quality time together.
Agree on the best custody arrangement
Before alternating one week with Mom and one week with Dad, you should note that sharing custody arrangements will first depend on your child’s age.
To start with, it’s recommended for an infant to stay at their main caregiver’s place (usually their Mom), with their Dad looking after them several times a week at his own place, often just during the day. From 2 to 3 years old, you can gradually introduce overnight stays at Dad’s (or Mom’s, depending on who is the main caregiver). From 3 to 5, you can let your child spend a whole weekend with Dad/Mom. It’s only when your child is around 6 that you should consider switching homes more regularly.
Common custody arrangements are:
– One week with Dad and then a week with Mom;
– Monday-Tuesday with Mom, Wednesday-Thursday with Dad, and alternate the last three days of the week with Mom and then Dad every two weeks.
The schedules of custody also depend on your child’s personality and activities, your personal schedule and your job, as well as those of your co-parent. Regularly discussing and updating the schedule to find the best arrangement for everyone is therefore essential.
Avoid a long-distance co-parenting agreement
Switching homes and all the travel associated with it can be tiring for your child. Long journeys also mean less time dedicated to extra-curricular activities, homework, reading or playing. That’s why it’s best that the child’s parents live in the same area, within a reasonable distance. Some co-parents find that living together in the same house to raise their child is more convenient, at least for the earlier years of their life.
Rules should be consistent in both homes
Children need routine and consistency. Although it’s normal to have different parenting styles, rules should be consistent regardless of whether your child is with Mom or Dad. Enforcing the same rules in each house is essential so that your child grows up in a structured environment. Sit down together and decide what’s best for your child regarding bed time, meal time, their diet, time spent in front of the TV or playing video games, as well as discipline and rewards.