coParents often disagree about the ending of their relationship and they may disagree about protocols, but they rarely disagree about wanting what’s best for their kids.

We like to capitalize on this one nearly guaranteed truth. It’s the place where parents will meet and agree. In our discussions with coParents, we ask them to establish goals together for the post-divorce/separation joint venture of raising their children.

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Here are some examples of what parents dream to include in their parenting plan:

    • We want our kids to feel loved, listened to, guided, and supported in their various interests, activities, and academic pursuits.
    • We want our children to always know that our homes are safe harbors for them emotionally when their lives are stressful, peer pressure feels overwhelming, or their own expectations of themselves get the better of them.
    • We want our kids to “be kids.” We want them to know that we’ll take good care of them and not the other way around. Especially emotionally, we want to be sure they know we’re here for them.
    • We want our kids to have access to education and educational or enrichment opportunities, when affordable, and provide a reasonable amount of money to make that happen if we can.
    • We want to raise strong, clear thinking, capable, responsible kids who know they make a difference in the world and believe in themselves.
    • We value our caring, emotionally healthy and connected sense of extended family and want the kids to maintain their relationships with family on both sides.
    • We believe that a child’s strength and positive sense of self is directly related to an engaged and active relationship with each of us — we want to do everything we can to maintain positive relationships for the children — and support their relationship with the other parent.

There are dozens of different goals parents have written and set in front of themselves as “lighthouses” to guide their behavior and decision making. The key is that they’ve taken the time to think about the platform they stand on together for however many years until the children are adults — and beyond.

What you set into motion today begins to support your children for the rest of your family life. There will be high school graduations, job accomplishments, engagement announcements, births, and deaths. What platform do you want in place to best support your children through these very real, significant life-cycle events? You’re beginning to build that platform right now. Your goals are the planks.

Your coParenting goals: Take a moment and write your coParenting Goals. Ask yourself, “what do I need to do to help ensure these goals are met for our children?” Jot notes underneath your goal to remind you of your contribution to success.

Perhaps your coParent would be interested in writing his/hers as well. If possible, share them with each other. You could compile your list and staple it to your parenting plan when you want to remember: this is what’s really important to us as coParents! is is not an invitation to “compete with one another,” but rather to join together in the best interests of your kids.

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Karen Bonnell’s book, THE CO-PARENTS’ HANDBOOK.  For more information on Karen or her book, visit http://coachmediateconsult.com/co-parents-handbook/

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About Karen Bonnell

Karen BonnellKaren has over 25 years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families facing transition, loss, stress and change. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Karen has been Board certified and licensed as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner since 1982. She served on the faculty of University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University & Seattle Pacific University before beginning full-time private practice in 1984. She continues to be a provider of Professional Continuing Education to both health care and legal professionals.

Karen served on the Board of King County Collaborative Law and Collaborative Professionals of Washington. She is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Academy of Professional Family Mediators.

Her work is found through Unhooked Books: https://www.unhookedmedia.com/#home.