Coordinating and Managing Coparenting Expectations and Goals

Some coparents share the same parenting style while other coparents may use different parenting styles. Some coparents have similar ideas regarding how to reach the goals they have for their themselves, their children, and their family, while other coparents may have very different ideas on how to reach those goals. These differences can create conflicts for coparents as they strive to raise their children together.

Parenting Styles

  • Authoritative- High Expectations but warm and responsive
  • Authoritarian- These parents have high Expectations but are cold and unresponsive
  • Permissive- These parents have very few rules and are indulgent
  • Neglectful- These parents have little to no boundaries and have no expectations

Conflicts can occur between coparents when they have different parenting styles and approaches or different goals. Coparents need to discuss the differences in their parenting expectations and goals with each other and develop a plan for how to address those differences when challenges arise. A few tips to help you get on the same page as your coparent are as follows:

COORDINATE your parenting styles and approaches. Coparents need to coordinate their parenting styles and approaches with each other to help them realize their parenting goals. If coparents recognize and understand their counterpart’s parenting style similarities and differences, the coparents can work together to utilize the different styles to help their child develop in a positive way.

So how do coparents manage their own parenting style and their partner’s style and coordinate their aspirations? Coparents can set goals for their child’s development together and discuss how they will use their parenting styles to accomplish these goals. For example, if one of your parenting goals is help your child develop critical thinking, how will you and your coparent’s style coordinate to facilitate this development? If one of you has a more authoritative parenting style, how will this approach be managed, in a way that still facilitates your child’s critical-thinking development?

MANAGE your coparenting differences. It is very unlikely that you and your coparenting partner will agree on everything. Positive parenting does not rely on both parents being in complete agreement on all things. Parents can develop plans about how to approach expected differences ahead of time, so they can better respond to these situations. However, parents could have ideas or approaches that they may seem unwilling to compromise on. Can you think of any of these non-negotiable parenting expectations? If you have some of these immovable ideas, you could clearly explain to your coparent why you have these thoughts or beliefs and explain why they are so important to you. If your coparent has strong stances that you don’t share, you could ask them to explain what those expectations are and why they are inflexible. Remember, keep an open mind and be willing to remain flexible when needed.

Parenting Goals Examples

  • Teach empathy and respect
  • Spend more time reading together
  • Find outdoor activities for everyone
  • Develop Resilience
  • Develop better communication between coparents
  • Help the family eat better

Establish and set GOALS. Parenting goals look different for each family. Some families will set goals based on their child’s recent behavior. Some goals will be long-term goals, like helping your child develop better study plans. Other goals may be shorter term such as identifying some chores that your child can help with. Goals can also be focused on broader topics such as child behavior, or they can address your behavior (e.g., spending more time with the family, learning to better listen to your partner). Whatever goals you have, be sure to coordinate and manage these goals with your coparent. Coparents will not always see eye to eye, but, if they can talk things through and understand each other’s perspectives, they will be able to find compromises that will benefit the whole family’s well-being.

Setting and reaching parenting goals are important tasks that coparents must address to benefit their child’s development. When coparents perform and complete these tasks, they are also exhibiting good role modeling behaviors. Understanding your own and your coparent’s parenting style and each other’s child-development expectations can help you and your coparent meet your parenting goals. There will most likely be conflict along the way, but with a little work and planning, you and your coparent can decrease future frustrations and be successful in your coparenting journey.

To learn more about coparenting and other parenting topics, be sure to check out Thrive’s online resources, including the supplemental parenting module, Coparenting: Coordinated. Cooperative. United. https://thrive.psu.edu/modules/supplemental

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