By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
Co-parenting brings enormous challenges to both parents. For those not caught in high conflict divorces, it’s easier to move into the co-parenting equation. And much easier to adapt to new schedules, boundaries, agreements and conversations. That’s why the Child-Centered Divorce Network so strongly endorses mediation, Collaborative Divorce, the new Amicable Divorce Network and similar low-conflict options. They keep both parents focused on what really matters long-term: the emotional, physical and psychological well-being of your children!
When one gets entangled in the complications of litigation, you are opening the door to court involvement in your family dynamics. This is rarely a healthy situation for parents or children. No judge, regardless of how well-meaning they may be, knows your family the way you do. Their decisions are binding. That may lead you to countless appearances over many years trying to untangle a decision that didn’t need to be mandated by the court.
So before choosing litigation, or falling into the quagmire of high conflict, ask yourself some crucial questions. They can lead to other, more productive and peaceful outcomes for your family:
- What are the biggest co-parenting challenges you face?
Start by identifying them. Then ask yourself, what steps can I take to diffuse the tension and reduce the challenge? Sometimes we have choices we haven’t explored. Or there are conversations we need to have. Other times there are actions available to us that will soothe hurt feelings or acknowledge new possibilities.
- What can you learn from past mistakes that will serve you now?
Perhaps you said things in a dismissive way, didn’t listen attentively to your partner, or failed to understand a big issue that came up. Can you address that now? Can you own the part you played in escalating conflict? Agree to disagree and move on? Apologize for misunderstanding and agree to be more agreeable? Or strive to be more tolerant of your ex’s mistakes? Yes, this is a lot to ask and can be tough challenge for you. But learning valuable lessons from the past is a life-affirming, life-transforming step worth your serious attention.
- How can you persist in protecting your children in the most positive ways?
Are there new options or strategies that will get you to the place you want to be? Are there arguments you can make based on putting yourself in your co-parent’s shoes – or your child’s shoes? Is there another perspective worth pursuing? Is there an experienced professional who can help you safeguard your kids?
- What’s the best way to overcome distractions or other obstacles?
Can you find a compromise that’s a win/win for you and your ex? Make a trade-off that benefits you both? Engage a professional to guide and support you? Don’t give up exploring all opportunities and options.
- Can changing your mindset help to solve your problems?
Are you stuck believing your way is the only way? Why? Can you pick your battles more effectively? Knowing we can never change anyone other than ourselves, can you find a way to accept more of what is … and focus more on making that work? Would you rather be right – or happy? Often, it’s happiness that heals the heart and soul – for us and our kids!
Yes, these questions won’t work for every divorce situation. Sometimes effective co-parenting is just not possible. Some partners choose conflict and life-long tension as their preferred parenting style. However, many co-parents have the ability to work together for the sake of the kids if you open that door. Working with a mediator, divorce coach or therapist can help you discover viable strategies and solid ways to implement them successfully. The goal is a win-win-win for two parents and your kids.
Take the time to review the questions above. Be candid with your answers. Get the support you need. Reach out with the willingness to solve problems. Talk about the children you both love. Find a way to do it for them. Your kids deserve the best parenting possible throughout their lives!
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and author of numerous books, e-courses and programs on divorcing with children and co-parenting successfully. For instant download of her FREE EBOOK on Doing Co-Parenting Right: Success Strategies For Avoiding Painful Mistakes! go to: childcentereddivorce.com/book
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