Tips for Successful Co-parenting

How Parents Should Work as a Team in the Family

Successful co-parenting needs partners to respect each other’s parenting ideas, avoid arguing about discipline, enforce agreed decisions, and be consistent with rules.

Raising kids is all about parents working together as a team in the family. But because partners in marriage were brought up differently, they are very likely to have different parenting ideas and different approaches to handle a wide range of issues involving childcare and discipline.

To achieve successful co-parenting, couples need to put these differences aside. Set up rules that both partners should follow and be on the same page where children are concerned. Here are some tips that parents may find useful.

Respect Each Other’s Parenting Ideas

Everyone has a different childhood and was raised with different values, beliefs, and disciplinary approaches. So when there are two domineering figures in the family, those values and beliefs may clash. Accept that this will happen but at the same time be open to the spouse’s suggestions on various parenting issues. No one way is the right way. Sometimes, the combination of ideas from both parents may even work more effectively. So keep an open mind and respect each other’s parenting ideas and strategies.

Avoid Arguing About Discipline

Talk it over with the spouse and agree on how to discipline children. Come out with solutions on how to handle children when they break certain household rules. Avoid arguing about discipline, particularly when the kids are around. They will see it as one parent siding them while the other is looking for ways to punish them. Keep the argument behind closed doors and not within the hearing distance of little ears.

Enforce Only Decisions Agreed by Both Parents

A decision is easily enforced when both partners agree to it. But what happens when one parent disagrees? Remember, co-parenting is about teamwork. So if a solution is not agreeable to one party, don’t enforce it. Try to find other ways to overcome the problem. Keep trying until both parents are happy with a decision.

Be Consistent With Household Rules

Consistency is reassuring. Where discipline and rules are concerned, consistency is also effective to keep children focused and be more obedient. If parents keep contradicting each other, the children will not only become confused, they will stop listening and the sneaky ones will even play Mum and Dad off each other. Statements like “But Mum says it’s okay to watch TV first before dinner” or “Dad always lets us jump on the couch” will become commonplace if parents fail to be consistent with household rules.

Resist Interfering With an Ongoing Situation

Very often, one partner will try to be helpful when the other partner is trying to handle a difficult situation, for instance, Bobby hitting his little sister or Bobby caught lying for the 10th time since morning. Take a step back and try to be quiet. Resist interfering with the ongoing situation. Ideally, let one parent handle a situation as having both parents jumping into it will look as if Mum and Dad are deliberately ganging up on the child. Only offer to help the spouse if he or she is having real difficulty managing the child and the problem.

For co-parenting to work smoothly, both partners must address and agree to issues concerning childcare and discipline. They should operate as a team and respect each other’s parenting ideas, avoid arguments about discipline in front of kids, enforce only decisions agreed by both of them, be consistent with household rules and avoid interfering with an ongoing situation handled by the spouse.

Found this article useful? Read also Co-parenting and Sharing Childcare Duties, Avoiding Fights in Front of Children, and Fighting Fair when Children are Around.


  • Sandra Hardin Gookin. Parenting for Dummies. New York: Hungry Minds, 2002.
  • Carrol, Deborah, and Reid, Stella. Nanny 911. New York: ReganBooks, 2005.