How To Practice Healthy Co-Parenting

Updated March 25, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC


Are you and your partner currently going through a divorce? Or maybe you've already gone through the divorce, but you're still working out how to parent your children the best way possible. No matter what is going on, if you and your partner are no longer together and share children, you must learn how to practice healthy co-parenting. Your children need both of you in their lives, and the only way to do that positively is to make sure that you can co-parent, coming together for the benefit of the children.

What Is Co-Parenting?

If you and your children's other parent are still together in a relationship, you are already co-parenting without even realizing it. That's because co-parenting means that you are parenting together. If both parents are together, you do this without thinking. You talk to your partner about rules and consequences. You talk to them about gifts or events that happen with your child. You make sure they have a say in everything that happens (and that you do too). The two of you agree on the important decisions when it comes to raising your child.

However, when you and your partner are no longer together, that's when things can sometimes get tricky. Most people don't seem to get a divorce and feel comfortable talking to their ex again. They get out of the relationship, and they are angry, hurt, or sad. These emotions tend to get the better of us all as human beings, and before we know it, our relationship with the ex is no longer the only one that is hurting from experience. Our children are also the ones that are suffering.

The reason is that you and your ex are no longer on the same page. You no longer communicate about what's happening in your child's life or how you're going to resolve some of the problems they face. Unfortunately, immediately after a divorce is when your child will likely be facing some of the worst problems because they may start acting out or may start feeling neglected or depressed themselves. This is when you and your ex need to be working together to help them, but it can be difficult because you're also feeling the worst of the emotions from the divorce.


When you co-parent, it means that you talk to each other about important things. When your child gets a bad grade in school or gets detention, you talk with their other parent about it and decide on a punishment. When they do something great at school, you talk to the other parent about that as well. In co-parenting, you decide together on the good and the bad about raising your child. That doesn't mean you need to agree on everything, but it does mean that you know what the other parent is doing and that you don't undermine them.

If you know that the other parent doesn't want your child to have a cell phone and get them one anyway, you undermine their authority as a parent. If you think they should have a cell phone and the other parent doesn't, you should talk to them and find out more about why they feel that way and discuss it. Working together is the best way to help your child become healthy, happy, and well-adjusted, even after the divorce is final.

Why Co-Parenting Is Important

For one thing, co-parenting shows your child that you and their other parent still present a united front. It shows them that they are still important to both of you and that you are willing to do whatever you need to help them get through this more easily. It shows that you are not going to be easily manipulated either. You show that you and the other parent are still talking and communicating and making important decisions together. This shows that the child will not turn you against each other or manipulate one of you against the other.


No matter how great your child is and how good they've always been about following the rules and listening to you, they will undoubtedly try to push the rules and boundaries after a divorce. They may try to see how far they can push you against the other parent, or they may see what they can get from you just because the other parent won't allow it. By showing that you're working together and communicating, they will see that they can't do that. They'll also see that they can count on both of you whenever they need you.

Co-parenting helps to raise healthier and happier children. If you and your ex-are constantly fighting, even if you try to keep them out of it, they will wind up involved. It's impossible for them not to notice that their parents don't like each other or fighting all the time after the divorce, just like it was for them before the divorce. That kind of fighting will take a toll on the child, and they will feel like they have to take sides and make choices, even if you don't consciously put that on them.

Your child deserves both of you in their lives. When you co-parent, it keeps that level of involvement and concern. However, when you try to compete with the other parent, it puts one of you in a position as 'the good guy' and the other as 'the bad guy,' which is not helping you in your relationships with the child. Your child needs to see both of you as the good guy (and the bad guy, unfortunately). They need to know that you can and will look out for them and do whatever you can to help them.

Getting Help with Co-Parenting

It can be difficult to co-parent with someone immediately after a divorce or separation. You've just gotten that person out of your life, and the last thing you want to do is welcome them right back in, but that's an important part of having a child. Whether you were the one who wanted the divorce or not, it can be difficult to have still constant contact and communication with the person who was once so important to you. But keep in mind that your child is even more important, and they are still there.


Talking with a professional is a great way to start you on the path to positive co-parenting. You probably thought the couples counseling was over when you decided on the divorce, right? Well, that's not the case. You're still going to need to go through that type of counseling with your ex to make sure that you have the idea of co-parenting down well. Working with them is your best bet for helping your child, and you would do anything for your child, right?

However, one of the best things about current technology is that you don't need to visit an office with your ex any more to get that counseling level. You can check out Regain to find out more about online counseling that will help both of you get the help that you need without actually having to leave home (or your respective homes, as the case may be). You can use each log-on from wherever you are and have a session with your therapist just like that, from anywhere with an internet connection. This makes it easier to 'meet up' and get the help you need without the physical proximity.

Helping Your Child

If you're going through a divorce or have just recently gone through a divorce, it's important to find help for your child as well. You want to make sure that they are going to get through this in the best way possible, and even if you and your ex-can do co-parenting work, it's still going to be difficult for them to get through the process of the divorce in general. Helping them find someone to talk to is another crucial step, making things easier for them.


Don't underestimate the effect that a divorce will have on everyone involved, and don't forget that your child is involved. No matter what they may have seen, experienced, or not experienced, no longer having their parents in the same household will affect them. That means you are responsible for helping them with the process of divorce and what it's going to mean for them. Getting counseling for everyone is an important step. No matter how you seek it out or where you decide to go, every one of you has things that they need to discuss with a professional to heal.

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