When you go through a divorce, your mind goes to places it may never have gone before. You start to worry about the future because you're down an income. You worry about your children because divorce is hard on them. You get angry because if your ex had been different, this never would have happened. You get sad because it means you're forced to rebuild your life and you thought it was already built.
This is just part of your mindset. In co-parenting, there's a lot of thoughts that run through your head:
- How will my ex parent when I'm not there?
- Are the kids ok? Are they happy?
- The kids never wanted this. They want to be with me. Why won't he/she just see that and do what's best for them?
It goes on and on doesn't it? It feels like that's all you can think about! I'm here to tell you that your mindset (the thoughts that run through your head) matter, and that you have control of them.
First, know that these thoughts run through your head for 2 reasons:
- It's normal
- You let them
It's true. It's normal for these thoughts to run through your mind, but what you do with those thoughts is up to you! There's so much power in your head and it'll change your life if you do the work.
The next time you find yourself getting angry because your ex parents differently than you (or not at all), know that where your mind is when you handle it makes the difference between a positive co-parenting interaction and a negative one. Let me give you an example. In this example, the exact same thing happens: one co-parent hears that the other got a babysitter on their day instead of asking them to take their children. The difference is the mindset the Parent 1 is in before talking to Parent 2.
Before talking to their ex, Parent 1 decides to consider where their ex was coming from. It is possible that Grandma/Grandpa hadn't seen the kids in awhile and their ex wanted to give them time? Is it possible that their ex thought that most kids have babysitters in their life and the memories stick with them? Is it possible that the ex knew that dates wouldn't work and didn't even try? Parent 1 decided there were several possibilities and didn't want to shut their mind down. Parent 1 sent a text that said, "The kids said they had a babysitter while at your house. They loved the babysitter, great job finding one. I just want to let you know that I'm sure we both want to be considered if the other has plans so we can each see our kids more. I'll be sure to contact you in the future if I need a sitter and I hope you'll do the same for me."
Parent 1 knew that Parent 2 went into this just to upset them. They'd been struggling to agree on anything for the last several months and this is just a way Parent 2 could get back at Parent 1. Parent 1 sent a text to Parent 2 saying, "The kids say they got a babysitter when they were with you. Too bad you can't make time for your kids. I noticed you didn't ask me, their parent, to be with my own kids. If that's the way you want this to work, that's fine, I won't ask you either."
Do you see the difference in the mindset before going into the conversation? One of the ways the mind was open to possibilities and the other it was not. How do you think each of these conversations would go? Do you think they'd end the same or do you think they'd have different outcomes.
Mindset matters. For the very reason spelled out in these examples.
How do you control your thoughts? Here are my 3 steps:
- Be aware of them. That's it. Write them down. Repeat them back to yourself. Just be aware of them.
- Decide if they're helpful or harmful. It's a quick litmus test. If your child was having these thoughts, would you consider them helpful or harmful thoughts?
- Change the thoughts that are harmful. This takes practice, but it's not only possible to do, it's positive to do.
The reason I have a workbook series on Mindset and on Emotional Freedom is because it makes a difference in YOUR life and in your co-parenting relationship. Focusing on you and your mind can mean the difference between a positive working relationship and a negative one. It's just one of the reasons co-parenting can work, but it's the one you're in control of.
Download your copy of the workbooks below to get your mindset on the right track.