Terms coParents Need To Know

Terms coParents Need To Know

You may be new coParents, or very experienced. Either way, here are some terms that are great to know first hand.

coParent Executive Officers: You and your coParent are the executive team of your children’s lives. As you two join forces to confidently guide, lift up, love up and challenge your children to become the adults you know they are capable of becoming, you are tasked with working together toward that end.

This is a highly skilled relationship that involves the following:
1) Respect
2) Boundaries
3) Strong decision making
4) Coordination
5) Communication

You are independently making day-to-day decisions in your home, but together, you make decisions about the larger, broader topics/activities/direction of your children’s lives.

coParent Financial Officers: You and your coParent have a financial obligation and relationship predicated on securing the necessary elements of a child’s life: basic needs, experiences, resources, health-care, etc. Bringing a business mind to the process and maintaining a strong credit rating with each other allows your children to be free from conflict about money or unnecessary financial worries. Be honest about what you can and can’t afford. Follow through once you make commitments. Keep each other informed. Money management and financial responsibility are important life skills—you two are your children’s primary teachers on money management.

Duty Parent: You are both 100% parents on duty per your residential schedule agreements. The duty parent is in charge and the decision maker on day-to-day decisions both at home and in public places with your children. Be respectful of your duty parent’s role when interacting with the kids in public.

Guest Parent: There are times that you’re both a part of activities for your children—whether that is a birthday party or a basketball game. Guest parent refers to the fact that you’re welcome to attend, but not as a decision maker (unless you and your coParent come to another mutually agreeable arrangement).

Project-Manager Parent: There will be events and activities that you will both want to be involved in. When your coParenting relationship is strong, you will naturally and easily delegate tasks between you and things will work out smoothly. For many coParents, this can be challenging. By assigning the role of project manager for a particular event, the parent who is taking the lead is responsible for flow, delegation, budgeting, and the overall project. This decreases confusion, competition and conflict.

Celebrations: Events like shared holidays, birthday parties, or other celebrations are often assigned to one project-manager parent while the other is not only invited, but available to assist as requested.  Large or complex school projects are often best overseen by one parent even as the child transitions back and forth between two homes. Again, coordination and complete and respectful communication is critical. You may have other ideas for the business of coParenting relationship that you design. There are many “co” words that may be a good model for your situation: co-pilots, co-captains, co-lleagues, etc. What’s important is that you find your way to a functional, business-like relationship that works for raising your kiddos!

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Karen Bonnell’s book, THE PARENTING PLAN 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.

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