A major component to any successful co-parenting plan is that both sides agree to do everything within their power, and within reason, to facilitate a healthy relationship between the children and any step-parent who enters the picture. There are several tips to help along the journey.

First, set a standard for allowing a step-parent to discipline a child. The best way to do this is for both parents to agree on methods and to what extent discipline from a non-biological parent will be allowed. It is important that these guidelines be communicated to the step-parent from a unified standpoint. When divorced parents can get along and communicate respectfully, a step-parent will be much more inclined to encourage respect from the children as well.

Allow the children to see mutual respect in practice from all parties involved. If a mother treats a step-mother as if she holds value to the family and does not speak negatively about her in front of the children, a standard is set for how she is expected to be treated when the mother is not present. Children notice these actions. After divorce, when stability and trust is still being re-established, this action can speak volumes.

Let the children know that it is acceptable for them to spend alone time doing enjoyable things with their new step-parent. Oftentimes, fear of hurting one or both biological parents’ feelings will prevent a child from building new relationships. If they understand that it is not only allowed, but encouraged, beautiful relationships can blossom, surrounding a child with love regardless of which party has custody at any given time.