What is Co-Parenting? Part II
By SUSAN GRIFFIN
PART II: Co-Parenting Is for Every Parent
We now move forward with a clearer understanding that Co-Parenting is happening in all families around the world. Parents are naturally emotional about their children. It is important that parents make a commitment to learn to separate their Emotional Mind from their Wise Mind. Making such a commitment allows both parents to gain the necessary skills to model emotional intelligence and emotional processing. We teach our children through our own processes. Our goal as parents is to make logical decisions once we understand our emotional responses or reactions.
Wise Mind Decision Making
Everyone has emotions and life experiences that shape us and make us who we are. It is true that sometimes our emotions, if acted on without understanding, can lead us to the wrong choice. This is why it is important to recognize the difference between our own Emotional Mind and Our Wise Mind. Sometimes, you might not agree with your co-parent’s choice or action and your emotions will take over your mind, creating conflict. But you need to know how to acknowledge and validate this emotion and go back to rationally deciding whether the choice or the action your co-parent makes is better off for your children. Once you can identify the pros and cons of the action or the choice that your co-parent makes, you can better understand the reason behind it and tell whether this is a good or bad decision for your children.
It’s essential that parents learn to respect each other and support each other’s parenting role in order to raise their children together. Parents are role models for their children and their behavior directly influences their children’s feelings, beliefs, values, and behavior. In respecting their Co-Parent, parents recognize and support each other’s differences and decisions. We need to recognize that our Co-Parent has the same authority and responsibility to our children as we do, and allow him/her co-parent to spend quality time with the children without you. This is because children cultivate their relationship with their parents based on the quality time that they spend with their parents.
Each parent brings unique strengths to the roles of Parent and Co-Parent. By respecting our Co-Parent, whether we live together or separately, we are respecting our children as we nurture our child fully. We learn to recognize and nurture our Co-Parent’s contribution to our child/ren’s talents, strengths, as well as their challenges and idiosyncrasies. Our children need both parents to successfully navigate and master their important development milestones: trust, competence, empathy, self-worth, self-esteem, a strong and confident sense of self/identity, and positive relationships with peers and mentors.
Communication is the essential skill that determines the quality of our Co-Parenting relationships. If both Parents are able to communicate their thoughts in a respectful and straightforward manner, this can help them understand each other better so that they can cooperate in Co-Parenting. Equally important is our ability to listen respectfully to ideas, solutions, suggestions that are different from our own. Set regular meetings, once per month if you can. If you know that a topic that you want to talk with your Co-Parent about is a difficult one, sometimes it’s better to schedule an outside meeting or do it through phone calls or emails (reviewed by someone who can help you with your tone) so that you can avoid direct conflict. And prepare. By doing it this way, you often can ease the tension on the topic a little bit and both of you are more able to focus on speaking clearly and listening actively. Parents can make decisions based on effective communication rather than emotion-driven language. With effective communication, both children and parents can create and benefit from a positive environment.
This is why Co-Parenting is for every Parent. When we decide to bring a child into the world, we become not only a Parent but also a Co-Parent. This is a decision for life because Parents and Co-Parents are forever. Our thoughtful focus on our own Co-Parenting role allows us to develop and become a more effective Parent. Positive Parenting and Co-Parenting creates a warm and positive family environment. Children thrive when they have strong and close relationships with each Parent. Hannah’s House is here to support Parents and Co-Parents as they work to raise our shared next generation of hope for a brighter future.
Hannah’s House supports Parents, whether they live together or apart, as they strive to Co-Parent peacefully. We help all families who are challenged by difficult transitions in the life of the family. These transitions may include new parents welcoming a child; Parents struggling with toddler time; a new diagnosis for a child or a parent – physical, mental, cognitive, emotional, behavioral; sibling rivalries; screen addictions; an unexpected loss or death in the family; parental separation; abuse/neglect of a child by a trusted person; violence in the home and/or the community; and many more. Hannah’s House works to build resilience in children, minimize stress for each person in the family; support the healing of each family member; and reduce conflict that causes harm to a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development.
One of our free community services for parents throughout our county is the San Diego Parenting Helpline. Call 1-833-Our-Kidz today for a free consultation counseling appointment.