Finding and maintaining your co-parenting alliance
Parenthood. It’s a journey that, when we enter into it, we’re not exactly sure what to expect. For many of us, it’s a bumpy journey with some smooth roads along the way. We get onto the parenthood road thinking it will be exactly like our idyllic own childhood—or nothing like it, if ours was rocky—while integrating our presently held values.
Many parents—though certainly not all—split parenting duties with a spouse or long-term partner, ex-partner, or another adult. When you take the experience of parenthood and multiply it by two, you can end up with either alignment or misalignment. That alignment is known as the co-parenting alliance (Abidin & Kobold, 1999). Misalignment in any parenting relationship can be downright ugly—but when a child with special needs is involved, it’s even more critical that parents align themselves effectively to ensure the child is getting the care and support they need.
The Co-Parenting Alliance, Defined
Let me begin by defining the co-parenting alliance. In essence, it’s how parents split up the responsibilities of the home as well as the care-taking. In some homes, moms may tend to the inside of the house, as well as manage homework, doctor’s visits, and play-dates, while dads tend to the outside of the house and take the lead on sports and extra-curricular activities, maybe even finances. These more “traditional” configurations are not as common as they once were, and there are countless other configurations that are possible as well. But however the responsibilities are split, parents are aligned when they talk about and agree on household rules, expectations for behavior, school performance, consequences, and household finances.
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