Parent Café


Hi, this is Valerie, and I am back this time with more co-parenting tips, as well as more do’s and don’ts.  We will begin with a recap of what co-parenting is along with what co-parenting isn’t.

Let us peruse the dictionary definition of co-parent: 

The definition of co-parenting is a process where two parents work together to raise a child even though they are divorced or separated and no longer live together. An example of co-parenting is when a divorced mother and father share legal and physical custody of their child.

Two houses - Ten rules for healthy co-parenting:

  1. Don't force your children to choose sides. ...

  2. Opt for a positive tone when you talk to your children about your ex….

  3. Don't make your children your messengers. ...

  4. Detach yourself from your ex-spouse. ...

  5. Limits and expectations for your children. ...

  6. Be a responsible adult…modeling

How does co-parenting work…are you working cooperatively with the other parent-doing and modeling ones best for the benefit of your child/children? 

Tips that might help one prepare for their co-parenting obligation

  1. Get your feelings out somewhere else. Never vent to your child. ...

  2. Stay kid-focused. ...

  3. Never use kids as messengers. ...

  4. Keep your issues to yourself. ...

  5. Set a business-like tone. ...

  6. Make requests. ...

  7. Listen. ...

  8. Show restraint.

We will take a brief look at what cooperative parenting…

It is a style of cooperative parenting wherein conflict is low, and parents can effectively communicate about their child/children…Conflicted parenting is the worst for children, who are often thrust in the middle of the conflicts.  Children most often adjust to their parent’s divorce or separation much easier when conflict is not a part of the parenting environment.

Granted, cooperative parenting is a challenge, even in the most well-intentions situations can become difficult at times.  When parents are raising children in two homes, it can be an incredibly challenging experience for all involved. 

I know I mentioned “backpacking” in previous blogs; however, I am compelled to mention it again.  I will define what backpacking is and its devastating effects it can have when forming a cooperative co-parenting relationship…

In short, the backpack contents are a collection of real and fantasied hurts, betrayals, ongoing conflict, etc. to sum the backpack contents; it contains a collection of unresolved adult issues.  The person did not address during the relationship, or the verbalized discontentment was ignored by the other partner.  Therefore, intimacy continues into the co-parenting environment, making it impossible to present a congenial-united, conflict-free environment for the child/children.  I have found this to be the most injurious to forming or even understanding the importance of a united front.  A conflict-free environment will undoubtedly be the right path to successful co-parenting.

Nevertheless, I found a great article on rules for co-parenting.  Below are a few Do’s and Don’ts rules.


  1. Always, the decisions made by the parents will be for your child’s psychological, spiritual, and physical well-being and safety.

  2. Do make and confirm parenting-time arrangements beforehand between the parents without involving your child.

  3. Do notify each other promptly of any need to deviate from the schedule between homes, including canceling time with your child, rescheduling, and punctuality.

  4. Do communicate with your co-parent and make similar rules about discipline, routines, sleeping arrangements, and schedules between homes. Appropriate discipline should be exercised by mutually agreed upon adults.

  5. Do keep your co-parent informed of any scholastic, medical, psychiatric, or extracurricular activities or appointments of your child.

  6. Do keep your co-parent always informed of your address and telephone number. If you are out of town with your child, do provide your co-parent the basic travel itinerary and a phone number so that you and your child may be reached in case of an emergency.

  7. Do refer to your co-parent as your child’s “mother” or “father” in conversation, rather than using “my ex.”

  8. Do not talk negatively, or allow others to talk negatively, about the other parent, his or her family, and friends, or his or her home within hearing range of your child. This includes belittling remarks, ridicule, or bringing up allegations, whether valid or invalid, about issues involving the adults in the co-parenting relationship.

  9. Do not question your child about your co-parent, the activities of your co-parent, or regarding your co-parent’s personal life. In other words, do not use your child to spy on the other parent.

  10. Do not argue or have heated conversations when your child is present.

  11. Do not try to “win your child over” at the expense of your child’s other parent.

  12. Do not schedule extracurricular activities for your child during the other parent’s time without your co-parent’s consent. However, do work together to allow your child to be involved in such activities.

  13. Do not involve your child in adult issues and conversations about custody, the court, or the other parent.

  14. Do not ask your child where he or she wants to live.

  15. Do not attempt to alienate your co-parent from your child’s life.

  16. Do not allow stepparents or others to negatively alter or modify your relationship with your co-parent.

  17. Do not use phrases that draw your child into your issues or make your child feel guilty about the time spent with the other parent. Do not say “I miss you!” Do say, “I love you!”

I believe that co-parenting in a congenial environment is possible; just as I believe for some, it is virtually impossible.  As individuals, I will let you be the judge of the that. 

Hope to see you in co-parenting class!

By Valerie Fluker, MA, APCC

All people come to counseling to relieve pain and suffering. They feel they have little to no hope left. What they have been doing isn’t working anymore or maybe never did. They feel out of control, scared, and do not know where to turn. Or they may need education in the form of Parenting or Co-parenting classes. Or some just need to work on relationship issues or manage anxiety. Regardless of what brought you to this website I can help. I am caring, understanding and I want you to feel better. I see great things happening for most people within a few sessions. These clients start to feel happy, gain more confident and report they are satisfied with their life. While I cannot guarantee you the same results, I have seen positive results with most clients.

I became a counselor because I wanted to harness great hope and positive energy and to help install healing for my clients. I consider working with people in therapy an honor and privilege to work with each client. In therapy, each person develops their positive mental wellness plan and great growth often takes place.  

I discovered my passion for counseling teens while volunteering for Riverside Youth Probation. I enjoyed seeing these teens learn and grow as they figure out who they will become. I also work with caregivers of dementia clients and I see the struggle to care for their loved one. I frequently work with people that suffer from depression, anxiety and trauma. I have specialized training in trauma, working with children and elder adults.

I am a member of the following professional organizations:

  • Purple City Alliance helps make The City of Riverside a Dementia Friendly City.

  • American Counseling Association (ACA).

I look forward to meeting and working with you.