Archive for category Blended Families

4 Pillars To Cultivating An Effective Co-Parenting Arrangement

Co-Parenting is a beautiful response that puts children first! The first step could be to print out this quote and remind yourself daily…Some of you may be wondering, what if I want to co-parent though the other parent isn’t willing to? That is a very fair question and can be the likely scenario especially in the early days though it’s important that as the one wanting to commit to co-parenting then it must begin with you. Consider this for a moment…imagine walking a thousand miles in your children’s shoes and if you have then what would you do better? Below are some tips…Planning – In the beginning…

  • Develop a co-parenting plan; you may find this happens quite organically. If not, use the below as a guideline…
  1. outline a starting care schedule
  2. schooling/education
  3. financial i.e. child support/school fees
  4. how to handle your children’s medical needs or concerns
  5. discipline and household rules/boundaries
  6. holidays and special events (some families do half and half or alternate years)…you may eventually be able to share these days together
  7. decision-making guidelines
  • Aim for a flexible attitude – It benefits everyone to be flexible about your arrangements – I have expanded more on this below…
  • Accept different parenting styles; just as when you were together, you each have a different style. Deal with it…
  • Keep your ex-partner up to speed with ‘what’s happening’; find a way to communicate about what’s happening that works for you. We share online calendar and we use a co-parenting app.
  • Give your ex-partner some time to learn the ropes; nobody is perfect and this is new for everyone. Be compassionate and patient.
  • Be prepared for some negative feelings; Avoid lashing back, time heals. That said, remain on purpose to creating a positive co-parenting relationship. It will happen.
  • Communication Ooooh that word, it is after all the start and end to everything. They say, the quality of our life is determined by the quality of our communication and the quality of our communication is determined by the quality of our questions. YEP questions not statements!! Communication is the art in whichwe impart or exchange information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium. The question being here is how do you best communicate when it comes to co-parenting? Keeping in mind that in the beginning it’s a very conscious effort as to the way you respond with the other parent of your children, with practice it does become a way of life. The answer is always communicate with great thought, respect, compassion and consideration.

How; Listen, breathe…respond! Remember Co-Parenting is a beautiful response that puts children first.

**If communication is difficult in the beginning, try using a communication book or an app that makes it easier for you**

  • Flexibility Eeek you mean I have to be flexible even though we are no longer living together? YEP…probably more so!

You will find it quite common that though you have separated there still tends to be a primary parent. In the early years and still today to some extent, I had the time, he had the finances. So with younger children who are needier (though with teenagers, I am forever the taxi driver and I refer to more demanding of you emotionally) – it was our ideal that one parent be more available. In the beginning I worked weekends in retail whilst dad has a corporate career working Monday – Friday. In this case, it worked well for us that our children were with me from a Sunday night through to Friday afternoon and then with their dad on the weekend. It meant they were not away from either parent for too long whilst both parents could work and generate their own income outside of other financial arrangements you may have agreed to. This created a routine and as time moved on and both children were at school, I personally found a M-F job (retail wasn’t for me), we decided upon a new routine – 2,2,3…Mon/Tues with Dad, Wed/Thurs with Mum, Fri/Sat/Sun with Dad and then Mon/Tues with Mum and so on…

The key is flexibility, communicate your needs with each other and form an arrangement. If it doesn’t work, communicate that and then make a new arrangement. Then there will be sport and starting school etc…Your flexibility will need to adapt as your children grow and their circumstances change.

One big NO NO….Do not keep score! Look after your children as they require it. If one of you has to go away on a work thing or plans a holiday with their new partner – take your kids, make it easy!

  • Take The Higher RoadCommit to leading with emotional integrity!

If you do take the high road, in the long run your children will admire you for it.

Avoid sabotaging the relationship your children have with the other parent. This serves no-one and the biggest losers are your children.

I couldn’t have said it any better than Dr Phil;

There are two important rules concerning children during times of crisis and instability in your family:

1. Do not burden your children with situations they cannot control. Children should not bear such a responsibility. It will promote feelings of helplessness and insecurity, causing them to question their own strengths and abilities.

2. Do not ask your children to deal with adult issues. Children are not equipped to understand adult problems. Their focus should be on navigating the various child development stages they go through.

In conclusion, this really is a snapshot of my experience of co-parenting for almost a decade and I truly believe I have created the most ideal scenario possible for my children. It all began with a decision and that was followed up with commitment, communication and patience. Though there were the tough times, in the long run by taking the high road – those tough times are very much in the past and today my children have a large extended family whom love them very much. Divorce ends marriages though the family lives on!

“The difficult is what takes a little time. The impossible is what takes a little longer.”

– Fridtiof Nansen, Norwegian explorer (1861-1930)

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Co-Parenting – Is it new age or is it a must do?

 

  • What is Co-Parenting – How to share parenting post separation?

Co-parenting is cooperative parenting where fundamentally clear concise communication is the key and the ones ability to put their emotion aside and commit to raising their children together. Generally speaking co-parenting is required when Marriages/Relationships with children have separated or divorced. Thus parents will move to being co-parents. The first step to successful co-parenting is to make a decision that you choose to create a positive share parenting arrangement for your children who are ultimately at the effect of your separation.

I read this from a parenting website earlier and thought it summed it up well – “Your relationship with your partner might have ended, but you’re both still parents to your children. It’s in your children’s best interests for you to figure out how you can both be involved in their lives”.

You may be familiar with the recent announcement by Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin to consciously uncouple. I was quite alarmed that some people were quite negative about their approach thinking it was fluffy (evidently this was my approach 9 years ago – I just didn’t call it consciously uncoupling, to me it was the only way). Consciously uncoupling is primarily about putting their children first and co-parenting as a united front as opposed to parenting from a battle field and a little he says she says…Their approach is undeniably wise and very noble. Co-parenting is a fairly new term, you may know of the term ‘shared’ parenting. Co-parenting successfully takes a conscious effort and opposes the social norm/mindset that has been to grant custody of a child/ren exclusively to one parent with limited visitation by the other parent. This concept is archaic and potentially dangerous for the overall well-being and development of a child. Granted in some cases this is required, though my cause is for children who come from a home where neglect/violence does not exist.  The concept of co-parenting promotes shared parenting, basically speaking each parent would have equal responsibility as a way to protect children and raise them as close to ‘normal’ as possible with care and love from both parents.

Co-parenting takes discipline and commitment to really put your children first. Separation and divorce are never easy times emotionally and can impact you in so many ways; financially is the big kicker, not to mention it can be a massive hit on your self-esteem…That said upon your separation when two people decide to parent in a shared parenting/co-parent manner, the permanency of the pain seems to dissipate sooner through your decision to respond in accordance with your powerful state to parent together as a united front all whilst living separately.

That said, it is never easy though it is absolutely worth it. Just this past Sunday it was (as you know) Mother’s Day. My day started with the obligatory breakfast made by children followed by a stop in for brunch and a board game with their step-mum at their dad’s house, my stepson was dropped off by his mother whilst we were there – there was not one awkward moment, only ease a big sense of family. This can happen (and it wasn’t always easy) because we decided to take the higher road and co-parent effectively putting our children first. I am deeply grateful for the life we have created, my children know no different. I would never wish for them to have a life of bitterness between the two people they love the most. Would you? The HOW is not as tricky as it may seem it is however a commitment.

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Breakups/Custody and Co-Parenting

The hardest part about having joint custody of the kids after a breakup (via iVillage Australia) >> http://bit.ly/15rwLMF

My response to the above blog and how can you create a positive co-parenting relationship with your ‘ex’..

I too am one of the lucky ones, am I lucky or did we create what we have?? I actually know we created what we have, when my childrens father and I went separate ways we decided that no matter what is going on between us – we put our children first.

Granted both parties here had a vested interest though the journey was no joyride initially. It took an extreme amount of maturity to stand by our decision and that we did (most of the time). I felt he  couldn’t look at me for a long time, though time healed that and we both grew to see that we both played a part in the end of us as a couple. So we un-coupled and yet we remain a family. 8 years on and with the add ons of new partners and step children our family has grown substantially.

At the end of the the day, it comes down to choice and the decisions you make on how you act and who you show up as. It does make it a challenge when one parent struggles with the concept of separation etc – my approach was to ALWAYS go back with love and respect, no matter how tough it got. Not to say I compromised myself – I had done this enough within my relationship…though I chose my responses wisely and held my tongue.

What we have today is ‘the ideal’, we are one big family caring for little people who live with the consequences of their parents decisions. We were just two people who just couldn’t get their shit together being together though two people who love their children very much. I am a mother who knows how important their father is in the life, he’s a good man, I had children with him afterall and loved him, so why would I do anything to stop him from seeing his kids.

So, always feel into your decisions and make a choice that comes from love, no matter how this is received, keep doing this, put your children first, deal with your crap somewhere else and work out what part you played and your responsibility so it doesn’ happen again in your next relationship, go out and create your own life…most of all, love and appreciate the other parent for simply being your childrens mother or father…no other adult will love your child as much as you – other than them.

Do your best to always be your best ! I would love to hear from you if you too have a story to share or maybe you would like some help too in acheiveing an extraodinary co-parenting arrangement!

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Father’s Day For Blended Family Dads

I love this quote; “Any man can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad” ~ Anne Geddes

Father’s Day is an opportunity to honor fathers and celebrate fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. I have always had a soft spot for dads and have never underestimated how equally important a role they play in our kids’ lives.

That said, as a blended family mom do you find yourself feeling some pressure or maybe some uncertainty as Father’s Day approaches this weekend? Are you concerned you will step on toes or perhaps ‘it’s not your job’? Or maybe you have it all sorted. Each family member will have a different perspective and different expectations, so where does that leave us blended family moms?

My role is to support and encourage the children’s relationship with the father figures in their lives, with the goal of making each father feel special and loved on Father’s Day itself. That includes my partner, who is father to his kids and stepdad to mine, as well as my ex, who is father to my kids.

I begin with my own level of excitement in the lead up for Father’s Day, and I encourage all five children in our blended family to be ready for the big day. No matter the relationship, be it ‘bio’ or ‘step’, we flesh out ideas, plan the day and be certain that the role of father and/or stepfather is acknowledged. I will always ensure each child has put in energy into a gift of some sort, be it handmade or store bought. Each child has a gift to give their father and father figures.

Any differences with our exes should be diminished on Father’s Day to clear the way for children to celebrate their fathers with an open heart. My children always spend the night before Father’s Day and the morning of with their dad. I help them coordinate their ideas so they can do special things for their dad when I’m not there. As they get older, they can initiate themselves. Also, I feel it is important to be conscientious if there’s a stepmom in the picture helping the children honor their dad. It wouldn’t make sense to guide my kids to guide my children one way when there’s already another plan in place at their father’s home.

Father’s Day comes with a co-parenting bonus. If Father’s Day is a success for your ex, it’s also an opportunity to reduce conflict going forward. So much of divorce conflict is tied up in our egos, that feeling that we aren’t being properly recognized or even that our parenting is being put down by our ex. The desire to be understood and honored is innate to humanity, and giving our exes what they need goes a long way toward improving co-parenting relations.

A smooth Father’s Day also encourages your partner (stepdad). The children’s enthusiasm for celebrating their stepdad may fall anywhere on the spectrum. Whatever the case may be, his seeing your enthusiasm and appreciate for what he brings to your children’s lives is one of the most important parts of the day.

– Kara Wright

See my article here: http://www.bigblendedfamily.com/fathers-day-for-blended-family-dads/Fathers Day

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James Michael Sama

Relationship Coach | Relationship Consultant | Confidence Coach

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