Overcoming one of the biggest co-parenting issues
Are you Co Parents of kids that are stuck in the middle of the blame game you’re playing with your ex? Are you both still fighting about things that caused you to split in the first place? Read on to discover co-parenting skills for raising your kids together with much less frustration and stress, and a whole lot more peaceful agreement making.
Co-Parenting Happy, Confident Kids in Five Do-Able Steps
Check out these five easy steps that will have your entire, post-divorce family thriving! Although these steps seem simple, they demand dedication and perseverance. But we all know that your kids are always worth it. So read the steps below and discover how you can mend the past and secure the future happiness for your entire family.
Step One: Getting Clear on your Intention
Many divorced parents are unclear about their intentions as they pertain to their co-parenting situation, and you probably are too. So, the first thing you must learn is the important distinction between an intention and a strategy.
Our definition of intention is a deeply held value you have, expressed as a vision, for a specific part of your life. A strategy is a plan of action that will foster your vision.
If you don’t know the difference between these two, you might find yourself struggling to make agreements because you’re stuck on your strategies. Focusing on strategies usually leads to frustration and definitely limits your possibilities.
One strategy = One opportunity
As an example, you may have chosen to make Friday nights your family bowling night where each member of your family is required to attend. Do you remember why you started this practice in the first place? What was your intention? You may have wanted to provide a consistent, enjoyable way for your family members to spend time with one another.
What you may not realize is that if you’re open, there are many ways to get what you really want. Clarifying your intention, gives you the opportunity to choose from all the available options.
The most important place to begin is to develop a detailed mental image (your vision) that matches your most deeply held values as they relate to your co-parenting situation. This is what you’d most like to experience in this particular situation.
Step Two: Sharing your Vision
Do you know what your co-parent’s intentions are? Once you’re clear on what you want, meet up with your co-parent. It’s critical that you communicate and share your visions with each other so that you can work effectively together. Keep sharing your visions with each other until you are both just as clear on their vision as you are on your own.
Keep in mind that this is only vision sharing time, not strategy planning time. Strategies are critical to getting the life you want, but they will only distract from this part of the discussion, so hold off until later.
Once you and your ex are clear on what each other values, move on to creating a shared intention. Start with baby steps and work from there.
Obviously, it should not be hard for you and your ex to agree that you both want what’s best for your kids–joy, safety, good health, etc. Make a list of all the items you can both agree upon without difficulty.
After that you can begin discussing ideas like family bowling night, but be careful only to suggest these things as tools to achieve your shared values. Continue to build that list of values you both want for your kids until you both say something like, “Wow, I would be so thrilled if we created a life like this for our kids!” That’s when you know you have created a solid list to ensure your children’s happiness and health.
Sharing your vision and creating a shared platform will set the tone for trouble-free discussion, great results, and fulfillment for all parties involved.
Step Three: Negotiate
Is it your intention to settle for nothing less than what is right for your kids, yourself, and your co-parent? Are you committed to negotiating until you can both be happy with your decisions? Are you aware of the difference between negotiation and compromise? This is another important thing to be aware of when working toward a shared vision.
Here’s how the compromise process works: First, find out what all parties want. Next, discover which member(s) are willing to give up part or all of what they want to benefit the group. This is a solution that leaves many members unsatisfied at the end of the process.
The basis of compromise is the mindset that there is a shortage; it’s impossible for everyone to get what they want, and therefore members must cut back on their wants and settle for less.
However, when you negotiate, you find what each person values. As you uncover what is lacking in the scenario, you then begin to determine what’s been keeping you from getting what you value. In focusing on solving this issue, you begin moving toward a solution that will give everyone what they want.
When negotiating, our mindset is focused on abundance and the belief that there is plenty to go around; it’s just a matter of coming up with enough ideas to find some that everyone will be satisfied with.
When we set our minds on the fact that there is enough to go around, that everyone can be happy, we have what is necessary to see it through to a successful end. Always have the unwavering belief that your children will be happy, secure, and be cared for; that what you value for them will indeed become a reality.
Step Four: Build Strong Agreements
The negotiating process has now ended and you’ve come to an agreement, but what is the agreement? Is everyone clear on specifically what they are to do and exactly what they will be getting? It’s common to think you’ve come to an agreement when in actuality there are a lot of details still to be worked out. You need a strong agreement in order to get successful results.
Strong agreements are all about details; they specifically say who will do what and how things will get accomplished. They are clear about who will get what and when they will get it. Strong agreements come about only when each person or party has made a clear commitment to the agreement.
When someone is resistant to the agreement, they are simply expressing the lack of their value in the plan. Go back to your shared vision and intention and make sure you go through negotiation again, this time finding a strategy that doesn’t leave out anyone’s values.
Strength is apparent in agreements where joyfulness is expressed. When people see that their values are being supported within the agreement, they will find joy in committing to the plan.
Step Five: Establish a System to Check Accountability
Sometimes, results do not come to fruition and members get frustrated, even resentful. The best way to know if your agreements are effective is to establish accountability with each member. By doing this early on, and checking back to make sure it is in fact working, you avoid the hurtful feelings that can come when things don’t pan out.
Establishing accountability means scheduling specific times to check in and make sure your agreements are producing the results you want. It’s important during this stage to communicate with each other to ensure progress and to make any changes necessary. Accountability also generates a trusting relationship with your ex–when you see each other following through, you are each more likely to trust the other person in the future.
Meeting regularly to ensure accountability will help you cover all 5 Steps to Successful Co-Parenting:
1. Is your Intention still the focus?
2. Do all members continue to Share a Vision?
3. Does the Negotiation process need to continue?
4. Do new, or stronger, Agreements need to be built?
5. Do you have a plan that will guarantee future Accountability?
Co-parenting after divorce almost guarantees that there will be more disputes and references to old ones; there’s a good chance you’ll have more stress and emotion to deal with. However, there is a way to make it work for everyone.
When you make your intention clear, you focus your attention on that which you value. And when you uncover the values of everyone involved, you open the door to mutual satisfaction and a joyful atmosphere for all.
By focusing your attention and committing to your agreements, successful co-parenting is possible–and your children will grow healthy and strong in a positive environment.