First published Keepy
Reposted with Permission
The right co parenting app for iPhone or Android for your family can make life easier and more fulfilling. Co parenting today presents several difficulties for parents that live apart. Maybe a job has taken you overseas, or you’re active duty military personal. Regardless of your situation, you’re still a parent, and you want to organize, save, and share the memories that your child is building and developing.
You’re not alone in your parenting journey. Parents today are choosing to forgo marriage. The share of U.S. children living with an unmarried parent has jumped from 13% to 32% in 2017. With a decline in marriages, more parents are choosing to cohabit. Among children younger than 18 living in the U.S., experts estimate that there are an estimated 24 million living with an unmarried parent. Co parenting has truly become a growing phenomenon in the U.S. and in the world. And finding the right way to manage co parenting situations has been the difference between harmony and conflict.
Defining Co Parenting
Co parenting can be thought of in many ways, considering that many couples have chosen to put aside marriage yet raise a child together. For this reason and contrary to popular belief, co parenting is not exclusively limited to divorced parents. Families with a deceased parent often find their grandparents or aunts and uncles taking over the role of mother or father. In this way, nearby family hold a defining role in the co parenting relationship.
Jobs too can temporarily require one parent to live in another country while they work. The “co” in co parenting then truly becomes a practice of joint and mutual care from friends and family that help raise the child while one parent is away. Consider the recent PRI story of Chinmoyee Datta, who left India for a teaching job at Durant Public School District, in Mississippi. For one year, Datta’s husband and son remained in India before coming to the U.S. Both Datta and her husband––and many in a similar situation––found themselves in a co parenting relationship for a short amount of time.
In the past decade, co parenting has been redefined by women seeking different approaches to the traditional mother-father relationship. This movement has been part of a larger conversation about women continuing their careers while having children. In a recent Forbes article, Shelley Zalis discusses how she and her husband chose to be active co parents by raising their children as a team. Both Shelley and her husband have careers, and they knew that the way to raise children for their family had to be one of mutual coordination and responsibility. In this kind of partnership, both parents maintained their career, relationship, and parenting responsibilities.
Perhaps the next largest demographic of workers that find their families in co parenting situations are active duty military personnel or expatriates. Though the amount of active duty U.S. military troops overseas has gone down in recent decades, in September of 2016 there were close to 200,000 troops overseas. It’s estimated that 50% of those military troops are married and around 40% have children. Spouses in military families find that their friends and family often help take care of their children while the other parent is overseas.
With the world demographic of parenting and co parenting situations changing, here are 4 tips to consider in your co parenting journey in order to make life easier and more fulfilling.
Tip#1: Communicate with each other and your children
When you find yourself in a co parenting relationship, communication becomes the bedrock for your child’s growth. Psychologists say that empathy, open communication, and patience are the key criteria needed for successful dialogue between co parents. Though mostly geared toward divorced couples, a co parenting app such as OurFamilyWizard helps monitor tone and language to make sure communication flows. The coParenter app helps mediate conflicts between co parents. Both of these apps can be a good source when co parents find communication at a stand still.
One model to follow is what psychologists call the strategic problem-solving model. In this model, co parents attempt to (1) define the problem, (2) determine what causes the problem, (3) select a solution, and (4) then evaluate the solution’s effectiveness. This problem-solving model has proven useful to not only parents but also to large corporations and other institutions that must address behavioral challenges as they arise.
By using objective language to evaluate the causes of problems, co parents can seek solutions and evaluate how they work. If one solution does not work, parents select another solution and then implement and evaluate––and on the process goes.
Tip #2: Make sure you preserve your child’s photos, memories, and performances
Seriously. This is a big one, and it’s one of the largest regrets that older parents have when they look back at what they could have done better. For this very reason, Keepy co-founder and CEO Offir Gutelzon created Keepy to help parents and co parents preserve their child’s memories. The well-known blogger and author Lorrain C. Ladish recommends that all co parents share photos, grades, and accomplishments. As Ladish says, “Kids are happiest when they feel free to express their feelings of love towards both parents even when they are no longer a family unit living under the same roof.”
In a discussion of 10 mistakes most parents regret making, not taking enough photos and videos of their child ranks as #3. A child’s artwork or performance are some of the most valuable moments of their life (and for us parents as well), and the ability to have access to our child’s memories 5 or 10 years later is truly a special moment.
In a survey of 264 parents with children under 10 that the Harris Poll conducted for Keepy, they found that 75% of parents save their photos and videos in multiple places, 64% say they wish they took the time to write down information about each photo/video so they could remember the moment more, and 33% were worried their children will not be able to see their photos/videos in the future because they’re saved in so many places.
(Harris Poll Survey––Credit: Efran Morag)
A co parenting situation may present further difficulties, since parents are either geographically apart, or have alternative living arrangements. The moments and experiences of a child’s life go by rapidly, and a digital solution for preserving these memories can alleviate regret and keep co parents actively involved in their child’s life. Surrounding family––and the children themselves––benefit from having their memories, photos, and videos of life events securely stored, so that each family member can access, comment, and add their voice or video recording.
Capturing memories has been a captivating topic for many people, a way to reconnect with childhood. The seasoned reporter and New York Times writer Michael Winerip wrote a touching parenting article on childhood memories, capturing the complexity of their ephemeral nature. Winerip recollects how his dearest memories of childhood are vastly different than the memories his children possess. As he was developing his writer’s voice, Winerip relied on his own memory to recollect how his father shaped his growth and development.
Winerip did not have digital apps to view his memories, but if he did, perhaps his recollection and connection to his parents may have been different. Imagine if in addition to Winerip’s own memories of his father, he also had the Keepy.me app. For each short story or journalistic piece Winerip wrote, his father left a personal note, or recorded his reaction via video or audio. Winerip’s recollection and engagement with the memory of his father and his writing development would have been vastly different. That’s why finding the right co parenting app for iPhone and Android is so important.
Tip #3: Embrace the power of digital co parenting apps for both iOS and Android to organize memories
Co parenting apps give parents the ability to organize and plan. Both parents can access the app, which usually has a calendar to schedule an event or check whether a scheduling conflict exists between each co parent.
Co parenting apps for iPhone and Android are usually free but contain “freemium” features for enhanced functionality. Though some co parenting apps are specifically targeted at divorced couples, a handful of these apps can be used by co parents. Almost all good co parenting apps rest on the principle of open and transparent communication as discussed in Tip #1.
Digital storage apps in particular have the ability to evoke powerful memories. The usual truism is that scent is one of the strongest senses tied to memory. It’s also true that a picture or video can trigger a powerful recollection and the accompanying emotions associated with that memory.
For children who often do not remember the artwork they crafted in kindergarten or later, a digital organizing app allows them to see their artwork or performance with a new perspective. Even for co parents who view the artwork of their children years later, they experience those memories with fondness. The memories serve as a meaningful tool to establish connection and a sense of their child’s growth. If grandparents and aunts and uncles live miles away, they too can participate and experience these memories with the help of digital apps.
In response to a New York Times article asking high school students to discuss their reaction to digital memories, students largely praised the power of digital to evoke what has been forgotten. One student said, “I think it’s really beneficial being able to have the technology to capture an enjoyable moment to look back on to remind us of our emotions at that certain moment in time.” Another respondent mentioned, “My parents tell me stories of when my siblings and I were younger, but watching videos really helps to paint the picture. Personally, I’d rather remember an experience years later, even if it requires the help of technology.”
Tip #4: Have a budget and create a calendar
If you’ve read many co parenting blogs and advice columns (like we have), you’ll notice that almost all of them mention the importance of a calendar. A calendar allows parents to organize their schedules, set a budget, plan travel, and create, save, and share fun moments (if you have Keepy).
If a monthly budget is important, and each co parent pays for separate activities, a calendar system allows parents to keep track and plan ahead. Payment to the soccer team every 3rd of the month at $100––mom pays. $100 for the dentist––dad pays. Tracking payments helps not only divorced co parents but also separated parents and co parents. Apps like Talking Parents, Cozi, and AppClose help with calendars and tracking expenses. You can read about these apps from a recent Wall Street Journal article.
Using a calendar also benefits your schedule and wallet while providing your child a nourishing and supportive environment. Feeling a sense of coordination and communication between co parents has been shown to increase a child’s well-being and sense of confidence. Your child gains a sense of security knowing that there are regular and consistent plans, since parents are on top of scheduling.
For co parents choosing to maintain their careers and eschew traditional mother-father roles, a calendar keeps everyone sane, organized, and in sync. As Forbes writer Shelley Zalis says, “we divided and conquered together with lots of calendar coordination along the way. If one of us had to travel for work, we made sure the other was home. Our kids didn’t care who was home as long as one of us was there, and we never missed the important moments.”
Keepy was created with a similar concept in mind. By having the ability to organize, share, and save memories, parents and children can better organize how they access those precious moments. With an app like Keepy, you have the option to organize events and memories by categories and dates. If a parent missed an event, you can pull up the memory by either searching for the category or accessing the calendar and retrieving the accompanying photo or video.
If your child is older or you have multiple children, the events and memories begin to accrue, especially if you’re actively storing memories in Keepy. By tagging each memory with Keepy’s 70+ categories, you can ensure that each memory can be found by you and your family. A calendar with organizational features ensures that everyone stays organized, which benefits the entire family. Keepy can be downloaded here for iOS and here for Android. Read about the benefits of Keepy here. We hope you found our tips for finding the right co parenting app iPhone and Android helpful!