What is Shared Parenting?

What's Covered

Nowadays, the idea of co-parenting, or what is commonly known as shared parenting is typically practiced by couples who decided to split up or have a divorce. Parents agree to a situation wherein their children will be guided by both of them independently. But have you ever wonder what would be the impact of this situation on your child/children? Did you ever consider their emotions and well-being? Hard to envision, but this is the reality. Children have no choice but to live the life that they were destined to.

Shared Parenting in detail

When we say “Shared Parenting”, it is the situation wherein former partners or divorced couples decide to spend a substantial proportion in taking care of their child or children. Some days, the child/children are with their father, and the other days, the child/children are with their mother. They divide the child’s time equally to spend time with both of his/her parents. Eventually, this situation tends to give some advantages and disadvantages to their children.

Shared Parenting Workbook: Sharing-parenting after Divorce
This Shared parenting workbook includes exercises, questions, and thoughts which will help parents decide if shared parenting will work for them and their children

How it affects your Children?

Listed below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of Shared Parenting to the child/children of a divorced couple.

Advantages of Shared Parenting

Children get to have Quality Time with Mom and Dad – Having separate time with both of his parents gives the child more time with his mom and later with his dad, or what we can say a more valued time for each of them. Children and their dad can play ball games during their free time. On the other hand, they can practice board games with their mom and do it as one of their bonding time.

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Children will have two Homes – Having parents live in a different house provides the child two homes where he will have his own space and things. That sounds great for the child will have more spaces and a wider variety of clothes, shoes and other pieces of stuff to use.

Children will have Two Parents – In this situation, although their parents are already divorced, they will still have a father and a mother supporting and guiding them. The only difference is that they are not living together. It is by far better than just having a mom or a dad.

Children will become closer to the extended families of both their mother and father – By staying with their mom and dad on a scheduled basis, children will tend to gain contact with the other members of the family of his mother and father.

Children living in shared parenting are less stressed than the others – When a child is supervised or guided by both his mother and father, we can say that they feel less stressed for they know that they still have their mom and dad supporting them. The situation just changed because they are not staying together in one house.[1]

Children have better grades in school – Despite the intervention of divorce in a child or children’s parents, it is highly observed that children under shared parenting intend to do better and succeed in their academics than the ones raised by only one parent.

Children get to be disciplined by both mother and father – In a shared parenting situation, children will be able to hear both parents tell them what is right and what is wrong. Through this, an established control on the behavior of the child as he/she is growing will be better.

Children will have higher self-esteem – It is proven that children living under shared parenting or joint custody situation have higher self-esteem compared to those living alone with a parent. It is for this reason that children in this situation are still supported by both parents and they have quality time with their mom and dad as well. [2]

Children have more financial support – Children will be having two sources of financial support since their parents agreed to it. It will then provide sufficient or even more financial support than those living in sole custody.[3]

Children get psychological benefits – Children keep consistent communication with both mother and father. Therefore, it is a good manifestation for them that both of their parents love them, want to be with them and most significantly they’ll feel that they are important to their family.

Disadvantages of Shared Parenting

Children are troubled in going back and forth to two homes – In a shared parenting situation where both parents agreed for the child to have a scheduled stay on his mom’s and dad’s house, some children might get confused especially the young ones and this might be a cause of their anxiousness.

Children feel lonely – It is undeniably common that the children will have a favorite parent. As a result, when the child needs to move to the other house, he will feel isolated and he might think of ways on how he can stay longer in the house he prefers to stay.[4]

Children will encounter a lot of inconsistencies – This kind of situation would need a lot of adjustments for the child. From living in two different homes comes two different house rules. Some might be allowed in one house and not on the other. This might end as a conflict with the child and the parent who is much strict.

The child serves as a mediator to his conflicting parents – It is not a surprise that in the case where parents are still having conflicts even after divorce that their child/children will be used as a messenger for the both of them. Hence, a continuous source of distress for their children.

Children might compare their parents – When one parent is not able to consistently sustain what the other parent provides or show to his child, the consequence would be the questioning of their child about it. It is hard to level with what the other parent provides the child especially when it comes to the emotional well-being of the child.

Shared parenting positive effects on Divorced Parents

While shared parenting gives a lot of different advantages and disadvantages to the children of divorced parents, it gives various effects on the part of the former partners as well. Let’s take a look at some of these:

  • Parents will get some “Me time” – Probably this is one of the best parts of shared parenting because it gives the divorced couple time for themselves whenever the child is with the other parent. This is the best time for mothers to meditate and do some yoga. At the end of the day, we all know how challenging it is to take care of a child.
  • Parents tend to avoid being too exhausted – The scheduled time that shared parenting has helped each parent to have a rest and avoid the over fatigue moments of being a mom or a dad. They get to have a break once their schedule is done for their child.
  • Parents will reduced stress as a single parent – It is common for all sole parents to be doing all the responsibilities in raising a child/children. That is why shared parenting is a lot more beneficial for parents can divide the responsibilities in taking care of their children.
  • Mothers would be Happier – Divorced might not be the best ending for ladies marriage, but when an unexpected situation comes in, it will still be the best choice for them. Moreover, with shared parenting, their life would be much easier and they will also become happier.[5]
  • Fathers would be Happier – Being free from unhealthy relationships makes every man happier than staying on it and continue hurting each other emotionally and even physically. That’s why the presence of shared parenting results in a happier father for they can just focus on taking care of their child/children.

Situations where Shared Parenting is Not Advisable

Some people say that when things didn’t go according to your plans, that simply means it is not the best solution for you. The same goes for when parents split up or get divorced. It may not be the ending they were expecting, they still have to be there and do their responsibilities for their children by co-parenting. However, in some parents, co-parenting or shared parenting doesn’t work as well. Here are some of the primary reasons why shared parenting is not a good idea:

Unhealthy Mother or Father

For a child to be properly raised, guided, and supported, his/her parents should be genuinely fit. This is for the reason that parenting is a huge responsibility and requires strength and endurance. If one parent cannot is incapable of taking care of his/her body, how much more when it comes to bringing up his/her children? In this case, shared parenting is not a great idea for divorced parents.

Imprisoned Mother or Father

In this kind of situation, shared parenting is difficult to happen. One parent is not available or won’t be able to be there for their children, then divorced parents cannot agree to a co-parenting situation for their children. This would be the best option for their child/children as well.

Violence in either of the party

The primary purpose of parents agreeing to have shared or joint custody is for the welfare of their children. If one parent is violent, then the children’s lives would be in danger, or worst that violence might end up in the accidental killing of anyone in the family. That is why in this case, shared parenting won’t be a choice for parents to properly support and guide their children.[6]

Restraining Order is given to either of the parents

This concern justifies that one of the parents of the child is awfully showing fearful actions to the other and might also be trying to hurt the other party. That is why in this case, it is also best that the child will stay with a capable and good parent.

Neglectful Parent

If one parent is unwilling to take care of the child or keeps on leaving the child, shared parenting is not an option for them. This is very much common to young parents who tend to be lost on their career path and is not ready to be a father or mother yet. Their fear of responsibility leads them to forget or being negligent on the things they need to do for their child/children.

The parent is Incapable of Cooperating with the other

This situation is one of the primary reasons why shared parenting is not a great idea for divorced parents. People know that in a joint custody situation, both parties should agree to terms and conditions in supporting and guiding their child/children. However, if one parent is not working together in these agreements, then shared parenting should not be the option for them.

Presence of Psychological disorder in either of the parties

Being a father or a mother to your child/children needs a lot of patience and understanding. Especially if you are taking care of a very young child who cannot avoid being stubborn most of the time. Once a parent has been diagnosed of having a psychological disorder, it is impossible for shared parenting to happen.

Abusive mother or father

When either of the parents cannot control their emotions or have anger issues, shared parenting would not be an option for them. The child/children’s security is the most important when couples decide to have a divorce. That is why their safety should not be compromised by an abusive parent. Children already suffered emotionally from their divorced parents, hurting them physically is a big no!

Successful Tips on Shared Parenting

Being separated or having divorced has never been easy for couples especially if they have a child or children. The welfare of their children should be the priority of the parents even after their separation or divorce. That is why the presence of shared parenting is very much important and beneficial not just for the former partners, but most especially for their children. Here are some of the successful tips on performing shared parenting:

  • Have proper communication with your ex – It is very important to talk about matters involving your child/children’s needs. There would be times when you will have disagreements about certain things. But always keep in mind that talking with each other calmly and professionally would help you more in collaborating about the important things for your child/children. Moreover, it is best not to show to your child/children your disagreements. Talk about it in private and be understanding with each other.
  • Respect each other all the time – You won’t be able to escape from unpleasant situations in your co-parenting situation. For this reason, it is very important to have as much respect as you could to make things work in co-parenting your children. Remember your actions are being seen by your child/children most of the time. You are still their role model. That is why everything you do and shows to them matters, especially in respecting people. It will probably harm their emotions once you have exposed them to circumstances where you are insulting their mother or father in front of them. After all, you both agreed to have a co-parenting situation.
  • Plan schedules for your child/children – This is the crucial part for separated parents practicing shared parenting. The existence of planned schedules would help a lot for an easier co-parenting situation. They can give planners to each other to make them both aware of the schedules they have. With this, both parents’ time would be managed well and it would also be more convenient for the both of them. Hassles will be avoided when your children’s schedules are properly dated and fixed. For example, the time when they will be picked up at school on transition days, their time for playing and sleeping, and many more.
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  • Avoid arguments in front of your kids – Another important piece of advice for successful shared parenting is by avoiding arguments that will result in distress or anxiety for your children. This goes along with having proper communication with your ex-partner. Once a good collaboration is established with your partner, surely there would be lesser things to argue about. Hence, nobody will be suffering nor hurting.
  • Set rules and be consistent – When divorced couples decided to co-parent in taking care of their children, setting rules is one way to make their situation stress-free. By authorizing your child to follow certain tasks you assigned them and being consistent with them, they will know that this should be strictly done at all times. Therefore making your co-parenting situation more effective and easier.
  • Try to be more flexible – Changes happen especially now that parents already have different lives to support. However, the main reason why former partners are still in contact with each other is because of their children. And if there would be times when the father of your child is late in picking up your child/children during transitions or when the mother of your child needs to switch her schedules for some important reason, you’ll be giving each other allowance for changes as much as possible. You’ll never know, one day you will also ask for the same favor with your ex.
  • Deal with negative feelings professionally – There would be times when you will feel shame and loneliness for some reason. It’s either your children are away from you or they are just in your ex-partner’s house. This is the best time for you to unwind and do your hobbies or interests. Focus on lightening up your mood and forget the stressful memory of having a divorced and the tiring day of taking care of your kids. And when circumstances where your ex-partner makes you feel disappointed, think wisely and forget it if you can. Give your child/children the positive vibe and smiling face that they need to grow happily.
  • Build limitations – For a better-shared parenting technique, parents’ control over their child/children should be present and consistent. These boundaries set by parents will give their children reason to learn when to stop unnecessary things they are doing. Primarily, parents are teaching their children to be obedient to them and observant of their actions.
  • Do not try to manipulate your child/children – Trying to bad mouth your ex-partner in front of your child is a very unhealthy way of raising your children. It is important to stay professional even if you are very angry with your ex-partner, for your children not to think something bad about their mother or father. Another reason why this should be completely avoided is that this will result in your child/children being disrespectful. You probably do not want that to happen, mommies and daddies, because your child/children’s attitude reflects yours and how you raised them.
  • Attend to your child/children’s school gathering together – Showing yourself to your children at school gatherings where requires parents is a very good example for building up the sense of family into your child’s memory. It is as if you are getting along very well with your ex-partner even though things might be hard to forget. You’ll be setting aside your emotions for the sake of your child’s well-being.

Final Thoughts

Children are the primary victims when parents are no longer on good terms and decide to have a divorce. They do suffer silently and sometimes you will just see it through their actions. However, parents can make things easier and more understandable for their children when things didn’t work well. That is by having shared parenting techniques and just doing and providing the best for your little ones. Never stop taking care of them, supporting them, and guiding them for their lives are on your hands and nobody else’s hands.


[1] Bauserman, Robert. “Child adjustment in joint-custody versus sole-custody arrangements: a meta-analytic review.” Journal of Family psychology 16.1 (2002): 91.

[2] Turunen, Jani, Emma Fransson, and Malin Bergström. “Self-esteem in children in joint physical custody and other living arrangements.” Public Health 149 (2017): 106-112.

[3] Bender, William N. “Joint custody: The option of choice.” Journal of divorce & remarriage 21.3-4 (1994): 115-132.

[4] Johnston, Janet R., Marsha Kline, and Jeanne M. Tschann. “Ongoing postdivorce conflict: Effects on children of joint custody and frequent access.” American journal of Orthopsychiatry 59.4 (1989): 576-592.

[5] Arditti, Joyce A., and Debra Madden-Derdich. “Joint and sole custody mothers: Implications for research and practice.” Families in Society 78.1 (1997): 36-45.

[6] Jaffe, Peter. “A presumption against shared parenting for family court litigants.” Family Court Review 52.2 (2014): 187-192.

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Author

Vivian Perry

Vivian Perry

Mother of 3 kids. Enjoy reading parenting books and studied child care degree. Vivian loves to learn and write about parenting tips and help her kids to grow positively with grit mindset.
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