One of the most important things that parents in separate households can do for their children is cooperatively co-parent. Successfully co-parenting allows both parents to be involved in a child’s day to day life. I recently came across a useful article published by the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension titled "Co-parenting after Divorce."
If you are currently going through a divorce or parenting case, take the opportunity to discuss your parenting rights and responsibilities, and the roles that each of you will play. Work those discussions into your parenting plan. The article provides a detailed chart with questions about household expectations, education and moral upbringing, peers and social considerations and health care decisions that you and the other parent can use to start the discussions.
Additionally, consider the road that you and the other parent do not want to go down. One of the most important aspects of co-parenting is keeping the children out of the middle. The article points out that:
Problems may develop if parents send messages to each other through their children. Problems also arise when a parent talks negatively about the other parent. Children may feel guilty and unsure of their parents’ love when they’re caught in the middle.
If a parent asks about a former spouse, children may report that things are fine, even if they’re not. Or children may say things to make one of the parents feel bad. Again, don’t use your children by putting them in the middle. If you want to know something about your ex-spouse, ask that person yourself.
Explore these behaviors that you and the other parent agree you will both avoid, and work any agreements into the parenting plan as well.
Finally, remember that you and the other parent probably will not agree on every issue.
Accept that you and your ex-spouse may differ on key parenting issues. Try to work on finding common ground, especially on the most important issues. Communicating about a few issues is better than not having communication at all.