Co-parenting can be a challenging and emotional journey, but it doesn’t have to be a battle. Just like a dance, co-parenting requires coordination, communication, and compromise to create a harmonious and happy environment for your children. As a family mediator, I have seen many families overcome their differences and co-parent effectively. In this blog post, I will share some tips on how to approach co-parenting like a dance, instead of a battle, and how to get your co-parent to see your point of view.
Let the Co-parenting Tango Begin: Prioritize Your Children’s Well-being and Happiness
First and foremost, it’s important to keep the focus on the needs of your children. While it may be tempting to get caught up in your own emotions and desires, the most important thing is to prioritize the well-being and happiness of your children. This means working together with your co-parent to create a parenting plan that is in the best interests of your children, even if it means making sacrifices or compromises. Always remember, they did not ask for this situation and they have no control over it; however, they are often the ones most impacted by the separation or divorce. Read that again… Your Children Are The MOST Impacted.
Finding Your Co-parenting Rhythm: Establishing Clear Boundaries and Expectations
One helpful strategy for approaching co-parenting is to establish clear boundaries and expectations. Just like in a dance, each partner has a role to play, and both partners need to understand and respect each other’s roles for the dance to flow. This means defining and respecting each other’s parenting styles, schedules, and responsibilities. For example, if one parent is responsible for dropping off the children at school, the other parent should respect that responsibility and not try to interfere or take over that role. Instead, take another role that your co-parent doesn’t typically fill. Perhaps you pick the children up from school.
Communication Choreography: Building Trust and Finding Solutions
Both verbal and nonverbal communication is key in co-parenting, just as it is in a dance. Regular and open communication can help to prevent misunderstandings, ease tensions, and build trust. Be sure to listen actively to your co-parent’s concerns and perspectives, even if you don’t agree with them. Seek to understand their point of view, and work together to find solutions that work for everyone.
For example, if one parent wants to enroll the children in a certain activity, but the other parent has concerns about the cost or time commitment, try to work together to find a compromise that meets everyone’s needs. If your children are excited and invested in the activity, perhaps the other parent can agree to cover the cost of a different activity later in the year, or maybe you replace a current activity with this one for a season. Let your child experience this one and choose which he or she likes best. Maybe the parent with more time can agree to take the child to the activity, even if it is not their day with the children. Now, the kids get to join the activity and the other parent gets an extra visit with the child. It may work out great for everyone.
Harmonizing Perspectives: Empathy, Understanding, and Effective Communication
When it comes to getting your co-parent to see your point of view, it’s important to approach the conversation with empathy and understanding. Remember that your co-parent is likely coming from a different perspective and may have different priorities than you do and that is OK. You two are no longer in a relationship and you cannot continue to act in the same manner you used to when you were. Be patient and respectful and try to find common ground where you can. Use “I” statements to express your feelings and concerns, rather than placing blame or making accusations.
For example, instead of saying, “You never take our child’s homework seriously,” you could say, “I feel worried about our child’s academic progress and would like to find a way to better support their learning.” Too often we see co-parents trying to engage in the same dance they used to engage in when they were a couple. Each parent must set their expectations to realize your co-parent is going to grow and change and things that used to be important to them, may no longer carry the same weight. As you each grow independent from each other, more defined boundaries may be set. It will not help either of you, or your children, to challenge these boundaries. It is healthy to reimagine your newly transformed relationship into something new and different. You are no longer a couple, but you are still connected. Don’t expect to be perfect at this new dance. It will take practice and consistency to get better acclimated to your new positions and performances together. You will get there. Just be patient.
Stepping into Co-parenting Harmony: Choreographing a Bright Future for Your Children
In summary, think of co-parenting as a dance that requires coordination, communication, and compromise. By keeping the focus on the needs of your children, establishing clear boundaries and expectations, communicating openly and respectfully, and approaching conversations with empathy and understanding, you can build a strong co-parenting relationship that benefits everyone involved. Remember, it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about working together to create the best possible outcome for your children.
Join the Co-parenting Ensemble: Support for Your Co-parenting Journey
When you’re looking for expert guidance in co-parenting, our team of experienced professionals are here to help. Visit our Parenting Plans page to learn more about our services and how we can support you through the co-parenting dance. Don’t hesitate to reach out to West Coast Family Mediation with any questions or to get started on your parenting plan.
Don’t forget to involve your kids in the fun too. They may have an even easier time spotting the differences than you do! Challenge them to see how many they can find and see who comes out on top. This can be a fun and engaging way to get them involved in co-parenting conversations and planning.
by: Jennifer Segura