by Ashley Logsdon

Co-Parenting: How to Show Up as a Unified Front in Raising Your Kids (Episode 320)

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We've been talking about how to feel supported by your partner, but how do we take it to that next level and co-parent in a way where we actually show up as a unified front? This is part two of a listener question:

How do you work together to make each other feel supported, and how do you co-parent your children as a unified front?

With the first step to any relationship always being looking inward first, the next is to address the two of you (which we did last episode). At that point, we move into the focus of this episode, and I want to share with you my two key steps for co-parenting at its best.

Here are your two rules for co-parenting at it's finest.

Listen to this episode on iTunes, Pandora, Audible, SpotifyStitcherGoogle PlayTuneInYouTubeiHeartRadio,, Gaana or your RSS Feed 

Co-parenting in Reactivity

It's amazing how often we go into parenting without really communicating what we're doing. We can be like two ping pong paddles, throwing the ball back and forth and not really knowing where the other will hit it next. How can you get intentional about co-parenting together? It's really looking at these two things below. 

Now, for those of you who are intentionally working toward your own intimate relationship, my episode last week is for you. For those parents who don't have an intimate relationship with their child's other parent, yet you're seeking to co-parent, these are just as relevant to you. 

Your core foundation: 

Look inward first, and bring awareness to how you personally are showing up in relationships. Second, pay attention to how you two can support and encourage one another. It may be through that intimacy and connection of choosing that loving relationship every day. Or, it may be simply choosing to be respectful and considerate enough in your relationship that you can remain a united front for the child you co-created.

Rule #1: Make Decisions Together

Our number one rule is we make decisions together. There are a few components to this to ensure this can happen. 

  • Don't ask permission in public. I love this tip from Nellie Harden, who was a recent guest on Mama Says Namaste. She shared how her children know never to ask their parents permission questions in front of others. An example of this is when kids run up to their parents and ask in front of everyone, "Can Suzy have a sleepover with me tonight?" It puts parents in an awkward position when we have to give an answer in front of others where we may not be able to openly discuss things. Maybe that question is asked in public, and now you're faced with the awkward scenario of reminding your daughter she is still working on staying dry all night long and that the last time Suzy came over they got into a big fight... You save your child and you a lot of angst by teaching your children at an early age they are way more likely to get a yes if they give you space to process and hash out the pros and cons with you privately. 

In our home, we taught our children this concept by simply repeating over and over again, "I'm not going to make a decision on this right now - we can talk about this privately later on." And it opened up the door for all kinds of critical thinking skills in our girls. 

Shutting the door on them in public when they were impatient for an answer demanded creativity. They had to learn how to pull us aside and ask us privately while still being respectful of others. They learned patience, awareness, and how to time and ask in a way that was most likely to get them the answer they wanted. And, they learned quickly that getting us alone allowed them the free space to share what they really wanted vs. ever feeling pressured by someone else. 

  • Don't play us against each other. We're a united front - if one parent gives an answer, the other supports it. And we respect one another to back each other.
    • If we're in disagreement, we can address it privately. Why? Our kids are smart. It doesn't have to be a manipulative or negative way, just know our children will see our weaknesses - and if they see one parent giving in, that's a glimmer of hope to dig deeper into. So when we aren't on the same page as a parent on something our child has a strong opinion on, it's best for all of us to discuss it privately as adults first and find our own common ground agreement before we bring our child in. It leaves room for both of you to express things like, "Hey, I don't think it's a big deal." It offers the freedom to have those true conversations that you would not normally have in front of the child.
    • If we can't come to an agreement, we sleep on it. Honestly, it never has to come to this. Remember, this isn't a you against your partner scenario. You two are heads of this family team, and just like a quarterback and a wide receiver have to be on the same page for the play to actually happen, you and your partner are looking at how to move forward together (and yes, I had to research who a quarterback would throw to). In order for the whole team to move forward, it's time to figure out some compromise or some way to make a decision on this.

Rule #2: Respect Individual Relationships

This is a place where I think we need to allow for a lot of grace and respect. A long time ago, I posted a blog titled "If You Want Daddy To Be Involved, Get Out Of The Way".

There are so many new mamas, myself included, who knew the whole routine, knew exactly what the sleep schedules were and the burp schedules and the feeding schedules and when we play and exactly how we play and how they're supposed to lay down and everything about what makes the baby happy. 

And while I recognize it's important to have some schedules and routines for different times, there is more to it than an agenda. More important than schedules and agendas are the relationships we create.

If we have things on the calendar we need to be aware of, and certain quirks that will really set a child off, for sure these are things to share. We're coming together as a team to parent, and that means cluing each other in on things that will help each of you know your child better. 

Yet when it's about certain ways to interact with your child and specific rituals that are special that you do, think twice about pitting that same agenda on your partner. 

I could come in and throw my agenda on exactly how my husband Nathan needs to parent our children and, in essence, try to make him a secondhand mom versus a first dad. I've been guilty of it. I could lay out every detail of our own bedtime routine and how my way is the way to put our toddlers to sleep.

What I learned, however, was that I was robbing my children of the opportunity to build a different relationship with a different person than me. Can you imagine if every person your child interacted with did the exact same thing with them? I'll go ahead and give you the newsflash that it's going to be VERY difficult to keep that up once they aren't under your roof. 

Maybe your partner handles your children differently. Maybe one is a bit more strict and the other allows for more grace. Maybe one of you is more of a project-focused parent, while the other loves to dive into imaginative play. Maybe that's okay.

Nathan was the king of getting the kids all worked up and energized right before bed, and it would drive me crazy. Until I learned to just get out of the way and allow him to follow through with what he created. He learned how to calm them back down, and just how amped up he was willing to go with them. 

We've learned that Nathan is really great at helping the girls learn their physical boundaries. He's rough-housed with the girls since they were young - it's not just a thing for fathers and sons to do. Our daughters have loved it, and yes, there are times I've opted to leave the room or even the house with their screams and antics. It's not my jam. I don't care to wrestle and tackle and potentially hurt myself. They, on the other hand, have learned their limits on how far to push so they don't get hurt, that consent and respect go both ways and they trust everyone to stop when asked, and have also experienced positive non-sexual touch (from a male, no less) since the beginning. 

I go much deeper with the girls on emotional boundaries. Yes, they talk to both of us openly, and I'm grateful for that. And, I know we share some heart-to-hearts that are really special to me. I have journals with my teens where we can write back and forth on anything that may be brewing with them.

When we negate what the other parent is doing and demand our way is the right one, we undermine that parent to our children as well. They learn that parent doesn't really have the final say. 

When you allow for fostering individual relationships together, it creates a richer home with way more to talk about as well, as you're creating different experiences even with the same people. Diversity is a beautiful thing - you can be on the same page with your intentions and desires for connection yet the process is very individualized. 

Your Challenge:

Again, our tips for you for successful co-parenting is first, as a foundation, look at how you are supporting each other as individuals before kids are ever brought into the mix. And that's all of last week's podcast on mind, body, and soul

Then move to our two rules here - 

  1. Make decisions together, in private.
  2. Allow space for individual relationships

You have a whole family team. Every one-to-one relationship in your family is an individual experience. Allow the space for that to grow and to develop and you'll have more rich relationships out of it. And of course, that ultimately brings us to that wonderful tagline that creates that synergy in our home - when we celebrate how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.


About the author, Ashley Logsdon


Ashley Logsdon is a Family and Personality Styles Coach and Lifelong Learner. She and her husband Nathan are RVing the States and unschooling their 3 girls. Her mission is to shift the mindsets of families from reaction to intention, and guide them in creating the family they love coming home to. Looking deeper than the surface, we assess the strengths, triggers, and simplifying your lifestyle so you truly recognize how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.

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