05 Oct How are you doing with “Co-Parenting” the kids?? Part II
Well, did the Part I resonate and if it did, what part? Next, here are some ideas and suggestions in going forward and things to avoid.
Communications– You are going to have to find a method of communicating with each other civilly and courteously or reap the consequences – and there will be consequences. Learn how to get a grasp on the impulse control – such as taking cheap shots at each other or fighting in front of the children (read the book “Growing Yourself Back Up” by John Lee). Children need adults.
- Put your personal needs secondary to those of the children.
- Leave your issues with each other at the door and focus on the needs of the children. It is not about you.
- Communication is more about listening to understand, than about trying to get your way (or trying to be the better parent).
Belief System – you both come from two separate beliefs systems and perspectives (family of origin issues – read any of the Pia Mellody books). Neither system is right or wrong; however, there are dysfunctional behaviors at play here. Also, understand that gender will play a role in this as well. What a man thinks is safe for the children, a woman may not. Understand that you will both see things differently.
Compromise – “I know what is best” or “I am in control” doesn’t work in co-parenting (see the last bullet point under premises). Learn from the ex-marriage what each other’s strengths and weakness were and play to those for the benefit of the children. Being right about something with the co-parent may not be in the best interest of the children. Nobody wins in going back to court consistently, (and yes, there may be times the other parent is not holding up their part of the deal). This is not about equality but about what is fair as it deals with the children.
- Disagreements – Pick you battles! Yes, there will be times when you’re getting your buttons pushed by you ex (they are good at doing this). If you are going to disagree, then do not do it in front of the children. Not every disagreement will merit a major discussion. Remember the goal.
Things to Avoid:
- Parent Alienation – keeping the children away by either overt or covert actions.
- Retaliation – to the other parent or by using the children
- Inappropriate sharing – telling children info that is not age appropriate or revealing intimate details and putting the children in the middle of you two.
- Parent Guilt – trying to make up for the divorce; maybe overcompensating.
- Wanting to be their friend and not be the parent. Wanting the children to like you best (see bullet point number 5 under “things to consider”)
- Fighting and name-calling in front of the children. The children haven’t done anything to deserve fighting and surely don’t deserve anything that even remotely resembles brainwashing, coercion, deceit or guilt.
- Using the children to get back at you ex. The children pick up on this, especially when they get older, and they will resent you for it.
Getting CPS involved because of the parent’s inability to work it out. The courts will, but not to your liking.
- Any form of abuse or addiction is non-negotiable. Safety if the primary consideration. If this is the case, then other options need to be discussed as to what needs to happen. Please seek the advice of a professional.
The marriage is over, but you to will be in each other’s lives (connected at the hip) through the children’s academic years, illnesses, accidents, weddings, births and other celebrations in life and death. It would benefit you both to find a way to work together or the children will be caught in the middle, causing more angst, anguish and damage.
I could keep going on and on about other issues to consider and yes, we have just scratched the surface. These are just some of the issues to consider and the ones I start with in discussing co-parenting with my clients.
For more information on co-parenting just google the term “Co-parenting” and you will find a wealth of knowledge and information. For more information you may want to read the book “In the Best Interest of the Child: A manual for Divorcing Parents” by Nadir Baksh, Psy.D and Laurie Murphy, PhD. Good Luck!