She puts the kids to bed at 8:30, you think 9:30 is a better option.
He lets them get hot lunch at school, but you think a homemade lunch is healthier.
She makes them wear coats the first day the temperature drops, but you think a sweater is fine.
He lets them watch PG-13 movies, but you don't think they're ready for it yet.
Do you know that these arguments have actually resulted in court cases? These are stories of times when parents couldn't make a decision together, so they went to court to have them decide on situations like this. What's your initial reaction to this?
Are you thinking they should have been able to figure it out? Are you thinking it's a waste of money to go to court over something like this? Or are you thinking that court was exactly the right thing to do to get these situations taken care of?
Co-Parenting is one of those things that's going to be around a very long time. It doesn't matter how old your child is, you will have your ex in your life as long as your children are alive. If you are going to court over issues like bedtime, what happens when things like dating or jobs come up?
Learning to co-parent is, in part, about compromise. Letting go of the need to be right in every single situation is part of it. If you disagree with PG-13 movies, but your children aren't having nightmares, swearing or suddenly more interested in sexual activity than they were, maybe this is one to let go. If you think homemade lunches are better than hot lunches, but your children are eating more when they have hot lunch, maybe that's one to let go.
I'm certainly not telling you that you shouldn't stand up for what's right for your children. You should always do that! My point is simply that sometimes there's more than 1 right answer. The rule of 10's is something I teach in the Co-Parenting course. It asks, will this matter in 10 minutes? in 10 months? in 10 years? If it won't matter, maybe it's one of those things to let go instead of getting in an argument about.
We became who we are, in part, because of the people around us. My daughters are incredibly talented at all things art related because their Dad has this in him. They are driven and ambitious because of my influence. Their love of learning comes from me, too. Two of them love to cook because of me and one of them is better at making reservations because of their Dad. Two of them are talented at all things sports-related because of their Dad and another loves reading because of me. Our children will learn from both parents, if we give them the chance.
My challenge this week is to let go of the little things in an effort to co-parent. See how this teaches your child, how it shapes them into who they are meant to be. Having 2 influences (or more) isn't a bad thing, it only gives your child more to see before figuring out who they are. As parents, aren't we always happy to watch and see who they become?
Karen Becker is a Family Coach who has spent years working with couples, one-on-one and in groups, as they transition from parenting together in a relationship to co-parenting. Her own experiences as a co-parent have helped build curriculum, communication techniques and worksheets that help clients take the negative emotion out of their relationship and put the focus on the children. She has helped many rebuild their lives after a divorce or separation whether children were involved or not. She has a Master's Degree in Counseling and applies these skills when coaching clients.