We talked a lot about re-setting the mind-set needed to co-parent. It is not about winning an argument or the award as “best parent.” The focus needs to be, “what is important to our child’s well-being in this moment?”
Below are some thoughts to ponder, regarding communications with your ex:
- In thinking about communication with the other parent, try to think first– what is best for my child? Is this comment or conversation vital to my child’s well-being? Or is this about my feelings/ need to put my ex in his/her place? With every decision and before every statement– put your child’s needs and emotional welfare first. If you are needing to vent or put your own needs/ opinions first, it is probably not a conversation to have with your co-parent. Reach out to someone else to process your feelings and/ or opinions. Avoid comparisons in parenting, but instead focus on facts regarding your child’s behaviors, moods, and development.
- Consider what negative assumptions you may be making in regard to the other parent? Can you put those aside, to help promote a healthy relationship for your child and the other parent? If you both could agree to start with the basic assumption— that the other parent loves your child and has their best interest at heart— then you can refrain from criticism of the other parent directly, whether the child is present or not. What language can you use when speaking to your child about the other parent, which demonstrates this positive assumption and respect? Practice this, and maybe even write out some phrases supporting this common ground. You both want what is best for your child.
- How do I care for myself and find emotional support away from my child? What friends or support system do I have, to process feelings and frustrations? Lean on and invest in these adults, and avoid leaning on your child to witness or process adult feelings and concerns. Likewise, stay positive and productive with your co-parent; avoid taking a “one-up” position in telling the other parent how to behave, feel, or react. It is unacceptable to attempt to control the other parent’s behavior or feelings. Again, stick to observable facts and stay child-centered in your comments to the co-parent.
- Avoid blame and shame, and ask for compassion. Work on compassion for yourself, taking time to soak in kindness or gestures from others in your life. Say “yes” to help and favors from others. Practice compassion for your co-parent, but maintain boundaries regarding certain negative communication tactics. Practice restraint in your “talking boundaries.” It is unacceptable to blame, shame, yell, accuse, or threaten your co-parent.
- Enjoy your unique connection with your child, and appreciate that the child has a special bond and rapport with the other parent as well. Avoid comparisons and encourage your child’s enjoyment and attachment with both parents, as well as grandparents. Meet your child where he/she is every day; development varies and fluctuates. Milestones are not nearly as important as your child’s awareness that you are attuned to them—you see them, are there for them, and love them, regardless of their behavior or accomplishments.
Call or text if you need clarification or support.
You’ve got this!