I’m a rule follower. Ask my husband. It drives him insane! The truth is that I feel better when I know there are certain rules for me to follow. I don’t believe I’m alone in this, either. When I let go of all the anger that consumed me after my divorce and really committed myself to positive co-parenting, I found that putting together a list of rules for me to follow will help me stay on track - even when the track is filled with potholes (and it really, really is). To be honest, in creating my list of rules, it actually helped really forgive myself for all the rule-breaking I did in the past, and helped me truly let go of the past since I was working on goals for the future. So, here you go, my list of rules for all you rule-following co-parents out there:
Be honest. We’re a Christian family, so honesty matters in all situations in our house, but you and I both know that honesty doesn’t always come easy. When I say ‘be honest’, I don’t mean use this as an excuse to attack your co-parent because you’re “just being honest”. I mean, own up to the situations in which you weren’t or aren’t the best co-parent, own when you’ve done something wrong, and just be honest.
Be kind. Yep. Just that simple. Even when all I want to do is go on the attack, I’m choosing kindness first. My words matter. They hold a lot of power. Once said, they cannot be unsaid. Be kind.
Keep moving forward. There will always be hiccups along the way, but as long as the general direction is forward - we’re doing ok. All of our kids are going to grow and they’re going to grow up faster than any of us wants. Keep moving forward - focusing on THEM.
Ask. There are so so many times when my kids and I want to make plans outside of the court order. Many times they tell me that “Dad’s just going to say no”, but if I don’t ask, the answer will always be no. We were able to negotiate vacation just a year ago because they asked, as well as changing weekends to align with my step-daughter’s weekends.
Be happy over being right. Oh my goodness, if I had a dollar for every time I swear I was right, but didn’t engage… Do you feel the same way? Hindsight is 20/20, so I can look back and say this, I don’t need validation from anyone when I am right, so arguing in an effort to get that is a waste of time. As long as everything is moving forward, then it doesn’t really matter who’s right, does it?
Those are my basic co-parenting rules. What are yours? I’d love to hear what you think of this and what rules you’ll put in place to keep yourself in a positive co-parenting frame of mind. Comment below!