Are you tired of wasting time, energy, and sanity on draining conversations or legal battles with your ex? No matter how much crazy is in your situation, you can take action now to stop allowing your ex to hijack your emotions and create peace for you and your children.
Last spring I started exploring co-parenting issues with parenting coach Christina Cline Schneider. She entered my life at just the right time as I was preparing for my ex and his wife to move to town. They’ve been here for two months now, and to my surprise, we’re having a lot of successes instead of battling it out in court.
I don’t see these kinds of successes very often in my everyday friendships with other single parents. And I never would have expected to see it in my co-parenting situation. But here I am, on the same page with my ex regarding discipline, health care, and timesharing. Granted, the boys still come home and highlight the differences between daddy’s house and mommy’s house. But most of that is easily dealt with by letting them talk and reminding them that daddy and mommy sometimes do things differently. And that’s okay.
Is it True?
I’ve been amazed to find that the stories I tell myself about my ex don’t always turn out to be true in our present co-parenting relationship, even when those stories are based in real events that happened in the past. I also have to acknowledge that my ex’s and his wife’s approach to dealing with me has been instrumental to our progress. They’ve had numerous opportunities to respond to me negatively and chose instead to respond with openness and peace.
So how are we doing it? Christina had a lot to do with it. My conversations with her, along with her tools for designing empowered conversations and understanding brain science have been crucial to our success. These six tips for peaceful co-parenting are based on my experience and the insights I gained while talking with Christina. I hope they help you grab your peace the next time you find yourself staring down the barrel of a potential conflict.
6 Ways to Get Your Peace
1. Tell somebody. It’s human to need to vent after getting served, being wrongly accused, or finding out about something that you believe negatively affects your child. Instead of holding it in or throwing it back, find a trusted friend or private forum and get it out. This is your chance to be unfiltered, inappropriate, and raw.
2. Respond instead of react. Don’t respond until you’re able to do so rationally and peacefully. It’s fine to simply acknowledge receipt of a message, and in particularly heated situations, delay your full response by a day or more. This is the time to reference Christina’s Designing Empowered Conversations as a guide to help craft an effective response that asserts your position and minimizes conflict.
3. Watch your thoughts. This may sound hokey, but I’ve learned that things usually turn out better when I go in expecting peace. Examples of positive affirmations to use for this purpose are “I am safe” and “I have positive, peaceful interactions with my children’s father.” Even if these statements aren’t true right now, the very act of saying them helps to start changing your reality and perspective. For more information on how this works, check out You Can Heal Your Life.
4. Put the kids first. Co-parenting is not the place to hash out your grievances with your ex. If you’re still recovering from trauma, get help. Are you really upset about the issue at hand, or is it about something bigger? Income disparity, infidelity, and resentment over the reality of your current situation are not acceptable reasons to create or participate in drama that ultimately impacts your children. If you think they don’t know, they do. They can feel it even if you don’t say it.
5. Withhold judgement. Your opinions and expectations of your ex may be based in the reality of what happened yesterday or three years ago. But today is today, and every person has the opportunity to start fresh, make new choices, and behave better.
6. Hold your boundaries. The reality is that not everyone changes their negative patterns, and even the people who do achieve some level of change may fall back into those habitual ruts in times of stress. That’s why you have your boundaries to keep yourself and your kids safe. For tips on setting smart boundaries, check out my earlier post with Christina.
Even if you have the most unreasonable, vindictive ex or the most impossible conflict at hand, I urge you to give these six tips a try. It may take months or even years, but I truly believe that a commitment to practicing these tips will transform your reality. It worked on me and for me. So go ahead and get your peace, too.
Need some extra support? Check out Christina’s 4-week virtual course, Conquer Coparenting, which includes content around creating healthy boundaries, learning your core strengths, self-care, avoiding/resolving conflict, keeping your children out of the middle of your divorce, effective communication skills, and keeping the other parent from pushing your “buttons.” It may sound impossible, but she can show you how these skills and much more can be accomplished without the cooperation of the other parent. Co-parenting does not have to be so hard. You do not have to do it alone!