I was in my car this morning after dropping off my kids at school listening to a podcast regrading making divorce easier for your kids and how to co-parent appropriately. To be honest I got very angry and then sad thinking about this issue from not only my own perspective but also from the perspective of other single parents I encounter through coaching and daily life.
How can one co-parent when the other parent is incapable or does not understand what that means or simply thinks they are doing a great job but in reality, they are a parenting idiot? Yes, I said parenting idiot and yes they do exist (you all know exactly what I mean no explanation necessary). So there is the question… how do you do it? Why do I always have to bite my tongue for the benefit of my kids? Why can’t I interject when my kids are asking me to and I really feel like I should? Why do I have to be the bigger person all the time? How much crap do I have to continue to put up with without blowing my lid and screaming at everyone within arms reach?
I hear these questions constantly from friends, clients, and even from myself. How do you continue to protect your children emotionally or otherwise when you don’t have them 100% of the time? How do you co-parent or make a divorce easier for the kids when it sucks no matter how you put it and you basically cannot stand to be in the room with the other parent? These podcasts and articles telling us that being angry or having a bad relationship with your ex messes up your kids. But what if that is unavoidable? What then? Am I destined to mess up my kids? Divorce is such a roller coaster and so difficult and then there is the additional pressure of not destroying our kids in the process- or sitting back and watching the ex destroy them either.
This is where you take a deep breath……no seriously take a deep breath I totally just did!!
Words of wisdom I say daily you can only control what goes on in your house and in your relationship with your children. It is no longer your job to help your ex have a relationship with your children. That is up to them. There will be so many frustrating moments and times you want to call and scream at your ex but really who does that benefit? It gets you nowhere, potentially upsets your kids not to mention yourself. It gives your ex ammunition to say what a crazy ex you are and really are they going to listen to you in the first place? Maybe this ideal perfect co parenting relationship exists for some people but I know that this usually means one or both of you are biting your tongues which is absolutely necessary to co-parent effectively. Add in new partners, things that the children say the other parent said, and the struggles of single parenting, and we are left with a recipe for sadness, anxiety, drama, and complete frustration that you cannot control what happens over there at the “other” house. Letting go of this idea and focusing on what you can control allows to you to actually parent better without the pressure of the “co” and possibly by relinquishing or surrendering that desire and biting your tongue actually leads to better co parenting. If anything it leads to a healthier you.
It is our jobs as the parents to put our kids first, listen to their opinions and needs. Give them a safe secure and supportive environment to share with us. We must honor our job as a parent and nurture our relationship with them and not concern ourselves with what the other parent is doing unless they are harming the children. I am also not talking about the stupid shit they say to them that hurts them and that you know will be in there head forever. This is awful but this is the other parent’s responsibility. Be the one your children have as their rock, their guide, their safe haven, their stable force that gets them through. If your ex wants to mess that up then, by all means, let them and let that go. Focus on yourself and prioritizing your kids. They will grow and understand this and when the time comes they will have the relationships with each of you that were nurtured or not so I suggest you nurture yours. Prioritize those children, listen to them, and just enjoy them instead of wasting your time with them focused on how bad the other parent is. Also, don’t waste time and frustration on whether you have the perfect co-parent relationship. This is not a competition. If you focus on your kids and they are the concern and priority then you will be able to do all the things mentioned above because guess what……we love our kids and do it for them.