Types of Co-Parenting Relationships

Are you stuck in an unhappy marriage but worried about the impact a divorce could have on your children? You are not alone. Many parents remain in unhappy marriages to spare their children the pain of divorce. While this may seem like a noble choice, it is often misguided. In fact, in many cases, children fare far better with separated parents compared to married parents in an unhealthy relationship. Why is this?

As children grow up, they develop their own ideas about love and healthy relationships based on what they experience. If their parents are constantly bickering, fighting, or unhappy, that is the image of a healthy relationship they will develop. Many therapists, counselors, and marital specialists instead encourage married parents who are at a breaking point to pursue co-parenting rather than attempting to remain together unhappily. It is vital, however, that the co-parenting relationship remain healthy and positive for the sake of the children involved.

Here, we explore what factors go into a healthy co-parenting relationship and take a look at the different types of co-parenting relationships that exist today.

Factors of Healthy Co-Parenting

Studies show that in many cases it is not the parent’s divorce that has a negative impact on the children involved, but rather, the success of the parent’s co-parenting style after the divorce. Parents hoping to maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship should be aware of two major factors that are key to a strong relationship. They are:

  • The ability of the child to maintain a positive, supportive, loving, and independent relationship with both parents; and
  • The ability of both parents to co-parent cooperatively without conflict

If both of those factors are present in your co-parenting relationship, you are likely doing right by your children, and they likely grow up relatively unscathed from your divorce.

Is Your Co-Parenting Relationship Healthy?

Two marriage and divorce specialists recently published a book on divorced families. In the book, the authors discuss co-parenting relationships. They say there are five types of co-parenting relationships, two of them healthy and three of them unhealthy. Are you curious what type of co-parenting relationship you and your co-parent maintain? Take a look below at the five types of relationships and find the category you fit into best. Do not worry if you find yourself in an unhealthy category. While an unhealthy co-parenting relationship can have negative impacts on both the children on their parents, co-parents can actively take steps to better their relationship. The five categories are:

  • Perfect Pals – In this type of relationship, both parents have either remained friends or have rebuilt their friendship after their divorce. They are conflict free and get along well with each other. They respect each other’s parenting style and will not let any emotion get in the way of positive parenting. This type of relationship is the healthiest for children, but also rare.
  • Cooperative Colleagues – This is a healthy co-parenting relationship that involves parents being able to cooperate with each other. They may not be friends, but they are able to be friendly and work together for the sake of their children. While conflict may arise from time to time, they are able to reach agreements and avoid arguing in front of their kids. They understand the importance of working together and allow their children ample access to both parents.
  • Angry Associates – This relationship involves two parents who are angry at each other and allow those feelings to get in the way of good parenting. They are often not able to parent without conflict and end up arguing often. They do not easily compromise, and it is often their children who suffer from their disagreements.
  • Fiery Foes – One step past Angry Associates, Fiery Foes are so angry with each other that they simply cannot parent. In this relationship, the co-parents are enemies. They often make their children choose one parent over the other. Holidays become a battle rather than a celebration. Children suffer greatly in this type of relationship.
  • Dissolved Duos – In this relationship, both parents are unable or unwilling to communicate at all with each other. One parent may pick up and leave and let the other parent take on all the parenting responsibilities. Children need access to both parents, so this type of relationship is detrimental to them.

If you find your co-parenting style falls into a negative category, there is still time to fix it. Consider having both you and your co-parent work with a counselor or therapist to find ways to improve your relationship. The well being of your children likely depends on it.

In need of legal assistance? The experienced DuPage county family law and divorce attorneys at Abear Law are here to help. Call 630-904-3033 to get started today.