Today is the last of the “agreed expectations” series. I included this series in my column, because I also include it in my workshop and see the value in it, if the agreed expectations are applied to everyday co-parenting.

Agreed expectation No. 17 is, “Agree to have your new partner, or significant other, respect and support your co-parenting agreement (this list of agreed expectations), and any other co-parenting plan you have in place”.

This is so important. Think about this ... if you and your ex are able to put in place a respectful and responsible co-parenting plan, or if you have a standard set for how you want to co-parent, then a new partner or significant other has for sure one very important job, and that is to respect what you and your ex are trying to do for your child(ren), while co-parenting. It means they should be a supporter to your co-parenting relationship and encourage you to continue efforts in reaching a goal of successful, respectful and responsible co-parenting.

I also am author and instructor of another workshop called “The Step ‘Non-Parent’ Co-Parenting Workshop.” Very similar to The Co-Parenting Workshop, but with a focus on the “non-parent” dynamic in co-parenting, the co-parenting responsibility as a non-parent, and understanding that even though they (the non-parent) are an important part of the co-parenting equation, there is still a boundary.

“Non-Parent” includes all people involved in your life, and your child’s life, that could influence your co-parenting relationship. Not only for “step-parents,” but I have had grandparents court-ordered to take this workshop, as well as girlfriends or boyfriends.

There is an expectation for any non-parent who enters into an already existing co-parenting relationship. Also consider a step-custodial, or grandparents who may have custody of their grandchildren. Do you see why this is such an important agreed expectation? There are many different co-parenting dynamics that can affect the children, so thought must be given to all of them.

The last and final “agreed expectation” that will complete your list and is what could be considered a great “co-parenting agreement” is No. 18, “Agree and set a standard to never do anything that would sabotage the other.”

This goes for your personal life, your professional life and also as the other parent of your child(ren). Sabotage is a thing and not just in high-conflict co-parenting. It is sometimes an unintentional common action, but usually the result of anger and emotion-driven reaction and response to different things that can happen in co-parenting.

Just as an example, school-related issues such as not being listed as a contact person at the school your child attends, a step parent being listed as a parent, a story told to the school personnel that creates judgment about one of you, or not being present for conferences or programs because you weren’t properly informed, etc.

I have worked with more than one co-parent who has experienced these things and these examples are what might be considered minor, but still have the same catastrophic affect on a co-parenting relationship, as would any other sabotaging effort against a parent.

This concludes the “agreed expectation” series and, as I said at the beginning of the series, you now have a co-parenting agreement (this entire list) that is not a legal binding document, but a great tool to get you started on your co-parenting journey, or can help you get your co-parenting relationship and journey back on track to the ultimate goal of respectful and responsible co-parenting.

I hope you all have a great week.

Kari Clemmer, a DeKalb High School graduate, is author of The Co-Parenting Workshop and instructs co-parenting education in Dallas. You can listen to her “Co-Parenting Basics” podcast or visit Co-Parenting Basics Facebook page for more co-parenting information. Send questions to Kari.clemmer@aol.com.

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