After 31 years of marriage I became part of the nearly 50% of those marriages that end in divorce. The reasons are void when the day-to-day rebuilding of my life became establishing new boundaries for parenting, not only for a special needs child but with an ex-husband.

Since the birth of my daughter, the youngest of four, I joked that sometimes I felt like a single parent do to the fact that my husband worked a lot and had very little hands on with our daughter. This is very different.

Dawn exhibited difficulties even before the divorce. She saw the distance grow between her parents and she began to isolate. Once we were truly on our own without the daily presence of her dad I realized just how much of an effect his absence would have on her. I knew that we had to have better guidelines and boundaries if we were to make this work.

I asked Dawn’s therapist at Enderly Place Counseling Center in Fort Worth how to venture into that conversation with Dawn’s dad and she promptly presented me with the Rules for Co-parenting. This list was created by The Parenting Center;

They are a great resource for anything parenting. They are a safe place to learn and mature as an individual as well as a parent.

Rule 1. Do Not talk negatively about the other parent.

Rule 2. Do Not question your child(ren) about the activities of the other parent.

Rule 3. Do Not argue with the other parent in front of the child(ren).

Rule 4. Do Not make promises to the child(ren).

Rule 5. Do Not schedule activities for the child(ren) during the other parents time.

Rule 6. Do Not use the child as a spy, informant or messenger.

Rule 7. Do Not include the child(ren) in adult conversations about custody or courts.

Rule 8. Do Not allow other adults, including family, to influence your attitude toward the other parent.

Rule 9. Do Not attempt to alienate the child(ren) from the other parent.

Rule 10. Do Not ask child(ren) where they want to live.

Rule 11. Do Not use phrases that make the child(ren) feel guilty about time spent with the other parent.

Not everything is a Do Not, there are some positive actions that can ease tensions and create a better atmosphere to co-parent.

Rule 1. Do communicate with the other parent and make similar rules of discipline, bedtime routines, sleeping arrangements and schedules.

Rule 2. Do, at all times, make decisions based on what is best for the child(ren)’s psychological, spiritual, physical well being and safety.

Rule 3. Do make all pick up and drop off arrangements before hand and away from the child(ren) to avoid conflicts.

Rule 4. Do notify each other in a timely manner of any changes in visits, rescheduling of events or if you will be late.

Rule 5. Do keep the other parent informed of any scholastic, medical, psychiatric or extracurricular activities or other appointments of the child(ren).

Rule 6. Do keep the other parent informed of any address, contact information especially when if you are out of town with the child(ren).

Rule 7. Do refer to the other parent as Mother/Father or Mom/Dad not by their first/last name.

I’ve learned that it is beneficial if both parents work within these guidelines. My custody arrangements are only enhanced by these rules. It wouldn’t hurt to take a copy of this to your attorney if you are just now beginning the process of divorce.

Most importantly, it takes away some of the grief, the angst and confusion that my child experienced while we adults worked out our issues. She is a much happier and healthier child. And, in the end that is the goal.