Co-parenting is a special case within the broader category of parenting and family therapy. Two situations are most common to co-parenting difficulties: (1) where separated parents get help maintaining coordination and consistency in their parenting strategies without being in romantic partnership; (2) when difficulties arise around a step-parenting role. Although each situation is unique, problems most often occur when one parent is more involved in meeting the needs for structure, and the other parent takes the role of support. Ideally, both parents should be able to provide both simultaneously, with the step-parent always providing less of the structure and ideally more of the support.
Kids rightly will rebel against rules and consequences if they don’t originate from the person they see to be as the most legitimate authority figure: their original parent. If a step-parent is more of an active and dominant type, and the original parent is more passive and permissive, therein lies the challenge. But this is almost always a solvable problem once everyone sees it. And the up-side is that in many ways a step-parent role can be better than being an original parent. For example, relationships with step-parents can usually be more open and more supportive than kids’ relationships with their original parents.