PRINCIPLES OF CO-PARENTING
1. We agree to build our co-parenting relationship on trust and respect.
2. We agree to leave the past in the past-taking from the past only the lesson we have learned and the motivation to make things work better in the future.
3. We acknowledge that our children have a different and unique perspective of each of their parents (and step-parents). We agree to respect our children’s right to have a meaningful bond with their other parent and step-parents.
4. We recognize that our children’s self-esteem depends on their having a positive perception of both parents. We agree to say only positive words about our co-parents – emphasizing his/her parental strengths as much as possible.
5. We agree to live by the Golden Rule – we will treat each other as we would like to be treated.
6. We agree to trade favors and build goodwill with each other.
7. We agree to communicate on a frequent basis and hold parenting meetings that focus on the needs and interests of our children.
8. We agree to conduct our meetings in a business-like and respectful manner. We agree to not allow the conversation to become heated or overly emotional. If our communication fails to be effective, we agree to not hang-up the phone, put down or otherwise show disrespect to our co-parent.
9. We understand the difference between a legitimate complaint and injurious criticism. We agree to share our complaints in a respectful manner and agree to receive complaints without taking personal offense.
10. We recognize that our children have extended family relationships and agree to accommodate our co-parent’s reasonable requests to take the children to special family events.
11. We understand that our children will have the opportunity to grow up in two homes. “Mom’s House” and “Dad’s House.” Our children will have the opportunity to be loved and supported by many new family members.
12. We understand that each of us is 100% responsible for our home environment. We agree to create an emotionally healthy and safe home environment for the benefit of our children.
13. We recognize that while we have the opportunity to influence each other as co-parents, we have no inherent power to control each other.
14. We agree to a “no contention” rule. This means that from this day forward, we will not allow any contention to occur between us. Rather, we will focus on problem solving rather than fighting. To solve a problem, we may need to postpone a conversation until after we have obtained more information or completed research concerning the problem or issue. Rather than bash personal opinions, we agree to share our ideas and research as we work toward a resolution.
15. We understand that our children will naturally choose to call their step-parents names they feel comfortable with – such as a real name, “dad,” “mom” or another name they creatively design. Therefore, we agree to respect their choices and not impose names for step-parents on our children.
16. We recognize that relationship problems are best solved in a one-on-one manner. Therefore, we agree to not triangulate others in our problem solving efforts. If a child has a problem with a particular parent, the child and that parent should solve the problem.
17. We agree to not use our children as messengers or problem solvers.
18. We agree to give our children permission to love both parents. Consequently, our children will not have to choose sides.
19. We recognize that as our children grow older, their friends become more significant in their lives. Often, especially in adolescence, being with friends is more compelling than being with a parent. Consequently, it is helpful to have our teenagers give input to our time-sharing schedule and help design ways to ensure meaningful time with both parents.
20. We recognize that, at times, our children may not enjoy going back and forth between our homes because it interrupts their lives. As parents, we agree to be supportive of our children spending meaningful time with both of their parents according to our timesharing schedule. If our child expresses a strong desire to skip a time-sharing opportunity that child and the parent involved should work through the issue in a one-on-one manner and arrange substitute time, whenever possible.
21. We agree to discuss parenting and discipline philosophies and reach a consensus whenever possible on parenting strategies. We understand that if we act with consistency and as a “united front,” our children will feel more secure and will not play one parent against the other.
22. We recognize that as human beings, we possess strengths and weaknesses. Each of us is responsible for our choices and accountable for our mistakes. We agree to learn from our mistakes and to do “repair work” when necessary. We understand that forgiveness is an opportunity to model forgiveness to our children by healing our anger, betrayal and sorrow and by choosing to be respectful and even compassionate to the other parent.
23. We recognize that contention and especially litigation between us can cause our children to suffer emotional and behavioral problems. We agree to use our best efforts to resolve differences and solve our problems without the need for litigation.
24. We agree to ensure that exchange times are “tension” and “contention” free for our children. We agree to be courteous and respectful when exchanging our children. We agree to discuss any financial issues or other significant concerns at another time away from the children.
25. We agree to send clean and appropriate clothing at exchange times and agree to return clothing and toys that belong to the other parent’s home within a reasonable time.
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