Getting divorced when you have children means that rather than parting ways you simply redefine your relationship.  You go from being parents as husband and wife, living in one home, sharing space and finances, to being co-parents, living separately but still sharing finances in some way and often still sharing some friends.  This can be a very challenging transition, as you learn new roles, new responsibilities and new boundaries.

The term co-parent implies that you are a team, working together toward a common goal.  Co-workers perform all kinds of jobs together, co-founders create companies together, co-pilots fly planes together.  They are members of the same team, each with important roles and duties that enable them to achieve the results they want.  In the case of co-parents, the result is a healthy, well-adjusted, happy child who receives guidance and love from both parents.

As in the case of all other teams, collaboration, cooperation and compromise are necessary to be as effective and successful as possible.  Imagine a doubles tennis team playing a match and one of the players just stands there and lets the other team member try to go after every single ball.  They’re going to lose the match. 

Whether you want to be on the same team or not, the fact is that you are, and the game you stand to lose is your child’s life.  So what is it worth to you to figure out how best to play with your partner so you can be an unbeatable team? 

Look honestly at your strengths and weaknesses and determine how you can divvy up the responsibilities of parenting.  Make sure you do your fair share.  Communicate with your partner so you can keep tweaking your game plan as needed.  Keep practicing and learning from each mistake or stumble. 

Get a coach if you need one to help you see the minor issues or potential you might be missing.  Find supporters who will cheer you on when you’re struggling or wanting to give up. 

You don’t have to be buddies with your ex, or even like them.  If you’re finding it difficult to think of them as a partner or teammate, think back to a time when you had a co-worker or classmate that you disliked, but had to work with.  You found a way, right?  You didn’t love it, but you focused on what needed to be accomplished and you found the most effective way to communicate with them and still get the job done. 

If you need to, think of your former spouse as a business partner now and the project you’ve been assigned is raising your child.  It’s the biggest, most important project in the whole company and you stand to reap huge rewards if you do it well.

Go team!!