by Marla Chalnick
You may not have realized it, but you and your “ex” have been dancing the same dance forever. It’s not a graceful dance. It’s clumsy, people’s toes get stepped on, but you kept on dancing hoping it would improve. It didn’t! You want a different partner. You divorced but now you’re still dancing when it comes to raising your kids. What can you do?
Change the Dance: If you change the dance (that translates to changing your words and behavior) your ‘ex’ partner will be thrown off balance.. Changing the dance means breaking out of old patterns so that you can achieve different results.
Choose your battles wisely: This sage advice not only works with your 2 year old, it works with your ‘ex’ too. Before arming yourself for battle, make sure this is a skirmish worth fighting for. Think about whether this is a battle that can be won, or if it will be a draw and end in a stalemate. Save your energy for the important stuff.
Think of your new relationship with your ‘ex’ as a business relationship, not a personal one. The business relates only to the children. Choose your words carefully and respectfully and keep your emotions out of it. If your lonely or anxious, talk to a friend or to your therapist, not to your ‘ex’.
Limit contact with your ‘ex’; it’s just as simple as that.
Give yourself an ‘out’. Not all conversations are planned. If your ‘ex’ springs something on you that you’re not prepared for and you need time to think about it you might want to respond with ‘This is not a good time for me to talk. I’ll get back to you on that” and schedule a time to talk when you are better prepared.
Never let your children hear you argue with your ‘ex’. They experience a conflict of loyalties when you are yelling and speaking disrespectfully to each other. Your kids will feel the need to take a side and this is a lose-lose for everyone. Please don’t make your children uncomfortable. They don’t come equipped for this situation so protect them as best you can!
by Marla Chalnick
Parenting after separation and divorce can be challenging. Conflicts, hostilities and differing points of view regarding how your children should be raised can leave you frustrated and angry. Disagreements can crop up about scheduling, extra-curricular activities, medical care, schoolwork and almost anything else. While you two may no longer be partners in marriage, you are still partners in raising your children.
Your children deserve the love and support of both their parents and Co-Parenting Counseling can help you navigate the creation of a new two household family. I have worked with many families that find a greater level of compromise and are able to create healthy environments for their children in both their parent’s homes.
Co-parenting is a relatively new term to describe roles that have been around as long as couples have separated and divorced. After separation you continue to co-parent your children, providing for homes and meeting their everyday needs. You will always be linked to the person who helped you create your most precious asset. Sometimes bitterness, hostilities and different points of view can make the task of co-parenting difficult and cause significant harm to your children. You are the two people your children love the most and they are hurt every time there’s a conflict between you. And even more important, they feel responsible for the negativity. As a result your children will suffer and their relationship with you will suffer.
While you may not feel hopeful about improving the communication and cooperation with the other parent, it is important that you are willing to take positive steps to improve the quality of your co-parenting. Co-parenting counseling is not marital therapy. It is not mediation. It is not arbitration. It is not legal representation. Co-parenting counseling is an opportunity for parents to look at their communication styles, their beliefs about what’s best for their children and their ability to cooperate in the work of raising their children.
The focus of co-parenting coaching is to create benefits to your children because you are able to interact in more positive constructive ways. Parents are supported, not judged, to try new ways of interacting with each other and with their children. It will keep your children from feeling torn because they are in the middle. If you find that your feelings are directing your interactions, that co-parenting has become a ‘turf’ war and that you are keeping score, then co-parenting counseling is for you.
Co-parenting counseling is a service designed to increase your knowledge and understanding of your child custody situation and to define specific strategies and techniques for improving your resourcefulness, confidence and readiness to move forward.