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By Tammy Gallegos Bennett, Founder, Christian CoParenting

What do successful CEOs and successful stepfamilies have in common? How do successful CEOs and successful stepfamilies manage and micro manage the details of their organizations? They are intentional about planning ahead, anticipating obstacles and having a specific business plan or “agenda” to decision making.

If a CEO went into a quarterly board meeting without an agenda he/she would not be an effective leader. Not only would the board lose sight of the goal, but the CEO might flounder and get off track with distractions, criticism, feedback and tangent talking. In the same manner, a successful stepfamily must have a plan, work the plan and evaluate the plan.

In co-parenting relationships that include biological parents and step parents it is ideal to have a “business meeting mentality” when addressing issues related to the shared children. It is even more ideal to have a plan before attempting to address those issues. Having a plan is not having a vindictive or self-seeking agenda, it is simply identifying the critical topics that all parents need to communicate about and then going into that conversation as if going into a board meeting and keeping a business mentality.

Many times unresolved issues and emotions can be counter productive when biological parents and step parents attempt to communicate. Being intentional to leave all difficult emotions out of the meeting is part of being a healthy-minded parent. The shared goal amongst the parenting team should be the well-being of the shared child(ren) and the preservation of the children’s emotional health.

Below is an example “agenda” that my daughter’s father (and his wife, my daughter’s stepmother) and myself have used in the past at our co-parenting meetings. We come prepared to discuss the topics that affect our shared daughter. We may have different opinions and sometimes we may have to agree to disagree; however, we have all identified that these are the critical topics that surround her well being and we want to do the best job we can possibly do to lead her in a whole and healthy life.

These agenda items also help us to begin conversation about a topic and follow up on it at the next meeting. Our meetings are usually one to two hours in length and we meet at a public restaurant for coffee or breakfast approximately once a month. When we cannot coordinate schedules to meet in person we do a conference call in the evening after all the children are off to sleep. Discussing these topics in private, with just the adults present, is the most ideal format for communication and problem solving.

We have also had occasion to sit down and talk to our daughter (together) about issues of concern so that she realizes that we are a parenting team and the adults are working together for her good. This may, initially, feel like we are teaming up against her, but we have seen that she responded well when she realized that we were all working together and supporting each other, instead of playing games or being manipulated.

This has worked for our parenting team and for many other families. I pray it will open the conversation path for your parenting team… for the sake of the children!

CoParenting Meeting: Suggestions for Discussion

Meet in a public location for a set length of time. Both parties bring concerns to the meeting for discussion (like a business meeting). Suggest meeting once a month. Ideally, include all step parents in meetings. Come prepared to work together for the best interest of the children! Think “Kids First!!” and “past last!!”

  • Discipline:
    1. Current Behavior:
      • What is working?
      • What is not working?
    2. Current Methods of Discipline:
      • What is working?
      • What is not working?
    3. New Ideas to Implement:
      • Consequences
      • Both homes if serious offense
    4. Parenting resources/books to read (separately) and discuss at future meetings
    5. Seminars to attend or educational resources
  • Children's Schedule:
    • School
    • Lessons / Sports / Extracurricular
    • Upcoming holidays or vacations
    • Other special events / activites coming up
  • Finances Related to Needs of the Children:
    • Questions
    • Concerns
  • Concerns (regarding children):
    • School / Academics
    • Friends / Social
    • Emotional
    • Medical / Physical
    • Spiritual
    • Extended Family
    • Other
  • Time and Date for next meeting