Why did I write this blog about successful Co-parenting?
As I sat down on Sunday afternoon to create my next technical performance engineering blog, I realized something very important which changed tonight’s writing direction. My ex-husband had just picked up the kids. This wasn’t his scheduled night to have them but I had sent a text asking if he would take them. He had obliged with a “Sure Can” response. I felt some relief. I had some time to catch up on my business responsibilities. That grateful thought persisted and I decided it was far more important to write this co-parenting blog.
I firmly believe that successful co-parenting has a direct effect on your business endeavors and your career. The opposite of successful co-parenting is chaos and negative feelings. These conditions definitely affect your business opportunities and career growth. My hopes here are to help guide parents to become successful co-parents. I am not an expert in the field of divorce and co-parenting by way of any formal education. I’m an expert by real world life – is there a better school?
The first time we separated, our kids were in preschool, then again in 2nd grade. During the course of 5 years, I moved 3 times and he moved 4 times. It was messy. It was an emotional rollercoaster ride. Our marriage did not work, no matter how much we tried. It was for the sake of the children that we tried and tried again.
In the end, I can say with absolute certainty our kids have blossomed into the kind, caring, and loving people they are today because we parted ways. We removed them from an unhappily married household. Our kids were not raised in a “broken” home. We fixed it. We built a loving safe environment for our kids. It took courage and sacrifice, we made the correct choice.
For every divorce story, there’s another story which can top your story. Trust me. I went from 2 years of constant crying and gut wrenching guilt (which internalized into health inflammation problems), heart aches every day, tears while grocery shopping, and feeling the absolute hatred from someone I created life with. Turbulent times. Emotions are powerful. Fast forward, we are friends with a solid co-parenting relationship. We stand strong for our kids. We lean on each other for support. We are parents, foremost.
I am sharing my own experience and providing these guidelines which I discovered through retrospection in hopes that you can achieve (if you haven’t already) a successful co-parenting relationship. These processes worked for us. People now admire our co-parenting relationship. The same people who witnessed the horrid breakup period can scarcely believe how we turned it around. This guide will get you to a quicker road of successful co-parenting and lead you through the stressful transition period.
How I define Success in co-parenting…
To me, success is gauged by the peace and mental well-being of the child. It’s children growing up in a loving environment where they see their parents interact and work together for their benefit. The children witness the very people who created or adopted them as a co-parenting team. They know that they are loved dearly and they are their parents’ priority. They are kids whose worries come from the playgrounds and friendships and not from their parents’ inability to co-parent effectively. If you have succeeded in putting your kids’ peace first and raising them in a healthy co- parenting environment, you have succeeded. In turn, your business and career will reap the benefits as well. Remember, no matter how old your children grow to be, they are still watching and taking cues from their parents. You are still their beacon and their compass. Show them how it’s done.
Let’s get started, First steps.
Ditch the blame (and the shame) of your divorce. Look, the most intelligent and successful people in this world have been divorced. As an example, read about Albert Einstein’s personal life. Yes, it’s an emotional blow to have committed to a person only to not have it work out. The parting of parents is indeed sad, yes, but living a lifetime in an unhappy marriage – that’s a real tragedy.
Have you heard the saying “Learn to forgive without hearing an apology.”? I understand it might be painstakingly difficult to give forgiveness if you have been betrayed, ignored, taken for granted of, etc. Take responsibility for your part of the demise of the marriage and decide to forgive your ex’s actions too. Keeping that hatred alive and burning inside only hurts you. For Your well-being, let it go. Accept both of your roles, learn from it, and move onto a brighter future. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is gained by holding hatred in your heart. Make a decision today to free yourself of hatred so you can move onto happiness.
The transition to Successful co-parenting starts in our own Mind.
No matter what phase of the stressful separation/divorce transition you are currently living in right now – DO THIS: Envision a successful co-parenting relationship with your co-parent. Even during the thick of bad times, I would lay in bed at night and envision what I wanted our parenting relationship to be like.
What would your successful co-parenting relationship look like?
Equally dividing the time and effort of taking care of a child?
Easily speaking to each other about the typical parental concerns (sleep, medications, etc)?
Coordinating schedules to accommodate personal and business needs?
Attending school events together/sitting together?
Getting the child ready to transition houses packed with everything they need?
Setting up similar routines in both the houses?
Sharing the financial responsibility for raising a child?
Calling or sending a quick text to tell them about something their child did for the first time?
Family beach days? Ok, let’s not get carried away…(but we yes do this too).
Now, make your mind believe you are already living in that successful co-parenting relationship. Talk the Talk, then Walk the Walk. The mind is habitual, keep that vision in your head. Act like you are already in a successful co-parenting relationship. The other co-parent will take notice and eventually will fall into this same successful pattern of co-parenting. They might be shocked at first and think this is a joke, but keep at it. No matter their reactions, try to act like you two are already in a successful co-parenting relationship. If he or she makes unreasonable demands or hangs up you, don’t react out of anger or try to dominate the situation. Act like you already in a successful co-parenting relationship. Be patient, tides will change, he or she will realize that you are setting the example for a more peaceful life. Keep holding the image of a successful co-parenting relationship within your mind. Now, walk the walk.
Here are some Powerful examples of successful co-parenting…
Always be courteous and show respect for your co-parent’s time with the children, don’t plan extra activities that interfere with their schedule.
If you witness back talking or disrespect towards co-parent from a child, step in for your co-parent’s defense. Show a united front.
When an invitation to an event is received by one parent, call the other parent to get a sign on and agreement.
Volunteer to pick up the kids on a day if your co-parent has a hectic business schedule.
Make and bring over a pot of chicken soup when your co-parent has kids with colds and fevers. Offer to bring over medications.
Offer to bring them to the next doctor dentist appointment.
Dealing with a temper tantrum? Be a co-parent who’s available to help calm the situation.
Your co-parent just returned home from a business trip and is scheduled to have the kids but you have extra energy in your tank, step up and volunteer to keep the kids for an extra day or a weekend so they can get some rest. (this one goes a LONG way)
Experience hard times in getting to bed? Joint effort in setting the routines.
Make an extra batch of cookies to go along with the kids when your co-parent picks them up. Also, if you are going out of town for a few days and have extra food in the fridge, pack it up to go with the kiddos!
Take turns with hygiene – baths, trimming nails, etc. Don’t give the co-parent a dirty kid to wash.
Freely share the pool of clothes, jackets, and shoes – there is no “ownership”, just make sure the child has everything that he or she needs.
BTW, I learned many of the above examples From my ex-husband.
Try this to get started: Pick a subject that your co-parent is very stubborn on and you two have collided on several occasions. For example, permission to stay up past normal bedtime to watch a show. Phrase the subject in a question format: “What do you think about watching that late show tonight”? You already full well know their stance. You are prepared to accept and agree with their decision. Watch their head jerk back in awe. Watch the beginning of a transformation.
Understand each individual has certain strengths. Use each co-parent’s strength to divide and conquer (and make your life Easier). I have an intuition when they really need to see a specialist. He handles all the school and medical forms. Win-win.
We both have careers. There are no courts mandating finances. Just because you married someone doesn’t mean you are entitled to their money, for life. Be responsible and share the financial load of raising children as equally as possible.
Share the positives about your co-parent with the children. Tell your kids what you admire about their other parent. Also, make little comments like “You have his chin, so cute” or “Aw, you get that creativity from your mother.”
Above, all make it Known that you are a team. You’ve got each other’s back.
Being a divorced parent doesn’t mean you need to be a single parent. You can have an equal co-parent. Many times, it’s our egos which prevent a successful co- parenting relationship. Egos exist in the mind. Change your mind.
Ignore the Nay-Sayers
There will be family and friends who have been there for you throughout the dreadful separation/divorce. Some of those people will be like “What?! You are going out of your way to do her a Favor?” Let them know that while you appreciate their being there for you during hard times, the focus is now on successful co-parenting. Don’t succumb to their pressure. It’s a negative sinkhole that no one benefits from. Politely explain your stance on the subject. If they don’t understand it or keep pressuring you to be dreadful towards your ex, drop them from your life. Your kids will be in your life forever. Who is more important?
Well, I need to get back to my real business activities now – I hope this helps other professional people out there who want to establish a successful co-parenting relationship!