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Skill Building:

Coparenting is an aspect of the couple relationship that focuses solely on children in the family. The term is often used to describe a relationship when parents are separated or divorced but also has meaning for parents who work nonstandard hours and tag team parents.

Coparenting requires that two or more parents work together to coordinate schedules, reach agreement on the socialization and disciplining of children, and contribute their fair share to childcare. This can be particularly challenging for PSP families who have to contend with rotating shifts, long shifts, overtime, and call-ins. 

things to consider…
  • Mapping out your work schedules and social calendars together to identify gaps and overlaps ahead of time (e.g., syncing online calendars). 
  • Having check-ins regarding child behaviour and reaching agreement on consistent ways to respond to these behaviours. 
  • Monitoring childcare responsibilities to ensure that both parents are taking on a fair share and making adjustments. 
  • Having back-up plans (make a list) for childcare if the PSP family member is called into work or will be late (e.g., babysitter, extended family, neighbour) see Navigating the Childcare Scramble – Childcare Support List. 
  • Discussing work schedules with children (in age-appropriate ways) to help them understand why plans might change. 
Do you want to know more about this?

Some families find that nonstandard hours allow them to accommodate childcare through tag-team parenting. The children are in the care of one or both of the parents most of the time. However, many PSP are required to report to work on short notice and work unscheduled overtime, which can be challenging to manage.For more information on managing challenges related to childcare, see Navigating the Childcare Scramble.

Skill Building:

Tag-team Dilemmas

Good coparenting skills are essential when one or more parents work nonstandard hours and tag-team parenting is adopted. These skills include communication (Speaking and Listening Skills), problem solving (Problem Solving Together), and understanding and sharing parenting roles (Childcare). The following exercise may help you reflect on your coparenting skills and discuss with your partner(s) what each of you do well and areas for improvement. 

In each of these coparent/child(ren) scenarios, think about how you have handled or how you might handle these types of situations, then check the next slide for a possible resolution. There are different ways to manage these situations focus on what will bring about positive outcomes for the child(ren) and the entire family.   

Need Something More?

Check out our self-directed Spouse or Significant Other Wellbeing Course.

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References for this page (click to expand)

Feinberg, M. E., Boring, J., Le, Y., Hostetler, M. L., Karre, J., Irvin, J., & Jones, D. E. (2020). Supporting military family resilience at the transition to parenthood: A randomized pilot trial of an online version of family foundations. Family Relations, 69(1), 109-124. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12415  

Paley, B., Lester, P., & Mogil, C. (2013). Family systems and ecological perspectives on the impact of deployment on military families. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 16(3), 245-265. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-013-0138-y  

Täht, K., & Mills, M. (2012). Nonstandard work schedules, couple desynchronization, and parent–child interaction: A mixed-methods analysis. Journal of Family Issues, 33(8), 1054-1087. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X11424260 

Zhao, Y., Cooklin, A. R., Richardson, A., Strazdins, L., Butterworth, P., & Leach, L. S. (2021). Parents’ shift work in connection with work–family conflict and mental health: Examining the pathways for mothers and fathers. Journal of Family Issues, 42(2), 445-473. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X20929059