Last week we talked about how to re-define what positive co-parenting looks like based on what your ex shows you they're able to (or willing to) put into it. This week, as the co-parenting series continues, I want to talk about your role and what it is you can do to make the relationship as positive as it can be.
You have a role in the co-parenting relationship. They say it takes two to tango, and I believe that, but sometimes there's one person who puts on the music, sets up the dance floor, and leads the other in the dance. It's always up to you to decide to follow along or not, though, and that's what today is all about.
When your ex is negative. When your ex is verbally abusive. When your ex is refusing to communicate. When your ex says no to absolutely everything you present. There are ways to handle it to prevent the cycle of anger from continuing. (The cycle of anger is introduced in the co-parenting course which can be found here.) Follow these 3 steps to ensure you do not engage, that you up-hold your end of the co-parenting relationship, and that you work to find resolution (where possible).
- Decide what to respond to. If you ask your ex to take your child to an extra-curricular practice that falls on their parenting time, and they say no, decide what to respond to. If they say no and call you names because "you set this up on their time", decide what to respond to. How do you decide? Ask yourself, "What do I want to accomplish in my response?" Your response is part of what determines how your ex will respond. As always, don't engage in the emotional. Keep your responses thought-based and fact-based.
- Have a Plan A and a Plan B. I'm sure I'm not the first to tell you that your ex may not agree with everything you ask for. Right, wrong, or indifferent; it's reality. Sometimes your ex will say no in which case, you'll need a Plan B. I also probably don't have to tell you that your ex might say yes to your request, in which case, make sure Plan A is figured out. They say if you can dream it, you can do it. For those of you working with the most negative co-parents, you probably feel like all you do is dream.
- Figure out how to respond to your kids if Plan A doesn't work out. Kids don't need to know that Mom/Dad might be selfish. They care about both of their parents. Bad-mouthing the other parent is never ok, even if it's justified. There are right and wrong ways to tell your kids that Plan B is in effect rather than Plan A. (You can learn more about those in the Communication Toolkit here.)
When it comes to co-parenting, in general, but especially co-parenting with a negative person; you are only in charge of you. You cannot make another person do something you want them to - no matter what. Even if you could, the journey to get there would only be paved with bad feelings, a constant need for control, and a competitive spirit. Is that truly what any one wants in a co-parenting relationship?
I realize that this is all easy to say and harder to put in practice, but please stick with me here and know that throughout this series, I'm working on getting you through it. If you don't want to wait for the series to be over, simply set up a free consultation with me.