Parenting is not always an easy task, especially when a family is separated by divorce. I have seen many families torn apart, children used as pawns, parents fighting over custody and so on. According to my research, co-parenting is easiest on the parents and the children when parents and step-parents are all working together and making a conscious effort to maintain a positive family atmosphere.
Successful co-parenting is based on putting the children's needs above anything else, including new relationships. The article, "Parent Teams", explains that most interaction between former spouses who have children together is out of necessity, in order to fulfill the needs of their children (Braithewaite, McBride, and Schrodt. 107-108). This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the parents are putting aside their differences in order to take care of the needs of their children and maintain a successful co-parenting relationship.
I am in a relationship with a man who has two children and as long as I have known him, he has put his children first. The relationship between him and his ex-wife may be strained at times, they may not always get along and may have disagreements but the children's needs and well-being come before anything else. When one of the children is sick or hurt, there is always a conversation of who can take off work and when so that the children can be taken care of. If one of the children has an event, both parents are usually there and if one parent can't make it, steps are taken to make that parent a part of the event even though they cannot be there. For example, a few weeks ago, one of our children had a school performance and her mom couldn't make it due to her work schedule. We video recorded her performance so that her mom would be able to see it even though she wasn't able to be there in person.
Celebrating special occasions together with the children, parents, and step-parents is something we do to maintain a positive family atmosphere.