HOW TO CO-PARENT

So many emotions are stirred up when someone decides to leave a relationship. The hardest thing for some of us to do is to accept the fact that things will never be what they once were, but while the universe has changed your focus can’t. Once we become parents our life is no longer fully ours. It’s about creating a healthy environment for our children to flourish.

The most important thing you can do is to set a business-like tone. Remove emotions and replace it with what’s rational. Collectively, the first conversation you need to have should be about the intention to have a compassionate and supportive co-parenting relationship. Believe it or not, the person that was once your “everything” does not have to suddenly become the enemy. Remember the big picture and that’s your child’s mental health. If you can’t be great together as a unit, then you’re going to commit to be the best co-parents you can be.

One of the biggest issues is people fail to create an extended family plan. It’s bound to happen that someone will start dating again maybe even marry. Often, it happens too soon for one of the parties involved. Energy transfers… this is where checking emotions is important because children shouldn’t have to carry either parents’ feelings or burden. They have enough going on within themselves when their parents break up. It’s important to agree on the roles extended family members will play and the access they’ll be granted while your child is in each other’s charge.

Keep the lines of communication open. Never use your kid as a messenger. It is not their responsibility to become the go between both parents. This makes a child feel stuck in the middle. I guarantee you not only will they drop the ball at times and completely forget information they were supposed to share but things will get lost in translation.

Communication about co-parenting is extremely vital for your child’s healthy development. You don’t have to remain quiet if something about your ex’s co-parenting is troubling you. Just remember to approach everything with love and respect. Watch your tone and your approach. No finger pointing or “you-keep-doing-this kind” of talk. The best approach when communicating is to make your child the focal point: “I see the kids doing this-and-that after they return home from their visit. Any ideas of what we can do?” Notice there’s not one “you” word in there. No accusatory tone or finger-pointing either.

Don’t hear but listen…listen to understand, not to respond. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes for that moment. Leave your own feelings and emotions out of what they are trying to communicate to you. I know it’s hard but it is beneficial to all parties involved.

Showing restraint is vital. Train yourself not to overreact to your ex. This is especially important in front of your children. Realize that communicating with one another is going to be necessary for the length of your children’s entire childhood, if not longer. Teach yourself to be numb to those buttons he or she is trying to push, and over time your ex will be forced to communicate in a more effective manner.

Last but not least, always be considerate. Share those milestones with the other parent, let them know about school events, big projects and accomplishments. It’s not about whether they are there daily or not, it’s about celebrating and encouraging your child.

The picture in an artist mind is not often what’s translated on canvas, but it doesn’t make it less beautiful. Happy co-parenting!

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