I was talking to a friend the other day about how his post-divorce life is going. He told me that he and his ex-wife are trying their best to co-parent but that every time he does something at his house that is different from the way she does it at hers, she threatens to tell her attorney and take him back to court. 2 things: 1) Just because one of you uses time-outs and the other takes away privileges, the Courts do not want to get involved. You can threaten all you want, and you may even get an attorney who will take your case (read: money) to go to Court, but unless there is abuse or neglect, the Courts are not going to get involved in your daily parenting activities. 2) Co-parenting does not mean you do things the exact same way at both homes. Co-parenting does mean that you are both involved in decision-making for your children, you are both involved in activities for your children, you both go to meetings, conferences, school plays, etc. for your children, but your homes do not need to be run the same or even remotely similarly. This is a hard fact to get used to. For people who used to live under the same roof and therefore had many of the same rules and regs when it came to handling the kids, having 2 separate homes where you are each free to make your own decisions can be a great thing, and a difficult transition as well. Should you try to be on the same page about responses to issues/questions/concerns the kids have? Sure- it makes it easier on the kids. Can you force the other person to do what you want them to do? Sadly no. You can’t make the other parent do things your way (no matter how right you think you are).
Co-parenting doesn’t mean living in lock-step and many times it doesn’t even mean you are great friends. What it does mean is that you try to look at things from your kids’ perspective to give them the best home life you can- both at your house and your ex’s house. It means you support the other parent’s decisions to parent the way they choose (assuming the children are not being harmed). Many times it means biting your tongue. Many times it means calling a friend and venting. Many times it’s a reminder (yet again) of why you are not married to that person.