If you find yourself in a situation where you will be co parenting with a partner or former partner through an unplanned pregnancy, it is best to lay a few ground rules out. Establishing roles and setting some boundaries can be very helpful in identifying how to best serve the child without adding to the stress of single parenthood. If the relationship is amicable sometimes all that needs to be mapped out are some basics like parenting time, holidays and child support.
With parenting time or visitation, you’ll need to identify what is in the best interest of the child. In the newborn and toddler stages, especially if mother is breastfeeding the baby, parent time should revolve around baby’s feedings and possibly allow limited overnights if mom is willing to pump her breast milk. Frequent shorter visits will be important so that baby can identify and have bonding time with the father. Your baby will grow and change a lot during the first few months and neither of you will want to miss out on that.
Be aware of each others financial needs and standings so that both of you can provide the best financial support to the child. Children are expensive and chances are, as single parents you’ll both need to work in order to provide the necessities for baby. If agreeing on child support or child care costs is something you can not do amicably, most states have a child support calculator designed to weigh both household incomes, assess needs and assign an amount that each party will be responsible for. These are very straight forward and can usually be drawn up without involving an attorney, however most courts when involved will insure payment is made if one parent lapses or refuses to pay.
Co-parenting can be difficult if you do not share common parenting ideals. When raising a child through co-parenting, issues like religion, education, and medical practices should be discussed at length and decided upon together so that the child can have consistency in both homes. Remember that inconsistency can be hard and confusing for the child, so try to come to common grounds where you can. This is made easier by always remembering to put baby’s needs first before your own. This can help when faced with possible arguments or in defusing disagreements.
Try to meet without the child when discussing issues so as not to put them through any undue stress from possible tension or animosity you may feel towards the mother/father of your child. Once all the ground rules are in place, enjoy your child. Make sure your visits and time spent with them are centered and focused on their needs. This will provide the bonding and develop relations that will last a life time.
Babies are a lifetime commitment, despite the rising number of divorce or unwed mothers, the babies from those unions will be a part of your life and your stewardship for the rest of your life. Honor that stewardship by respecting them, their mothers/fathers and your responsibility to them and you will achieve successful co-parenting.