Do you typically make New Year's Resolutions? More importantly, do you stick to them? The gym is packed on January 2nd. March 2nd? Not so much.
Sometimes co-parenting resolutions are like that too. You start off with the best intentions. But over time, momentum wanes, life gets in the way, your ex isn't on the same page, and discouragement sets in. And before you know it, you're facing the same conflicts, in the same ways.
But as with any kind of resolution, you don't have to wait until January 1 to commit to changing your approach to co-parenting. And if March 2nd comes, and it's looking like 2013 all over again, you can always start again.
The key words in the preceding paragraph were "you" and "your." While co-parenting is two-person endeavor, there are resolutions you can make about how you co-parent that are independent of what the other parent does, or doesn't do. For example, you can resolve to:
1. Communicate via email and text, if phone calls and face-to-face conversations are too charged.
2. "Sleep on it" before responding to communication from your ex that is volatile or potentially volatile.
3. Remember that what your ex thinks of you is none of your business. You don't have to defend yourself against negative comments about your parenting or your character.
4. Remember that in co-parenting, the old adage is flipped: the best offense is a good defense. Focus on building up your own emotional health, confidence, and resilience, and on maintaining a solid your relationship with your child. By being strong in this way, you're less likely to be buffeted about by your ex's negative actions.
5. Be child focused. Weigh your actions and decisions through the lens of "What will best serve my child?" instead of the lens of your feelings about your ex and the old relationship. Sometimes what's best for your child might require some stretching and adjusting on your part.
If you're in a high-conflict co-parenting situation, your resolution might be to acknowledge that you're in a high-conflict situation, and that the typical rules for co-parenting don't always apply when you're dealing with an ex whose anger & refusal to cooperate is off the charts. Your resolution might be to stand down and recognize that fighting fire with fire means that your kids may get burned. Or it might mean accepting that no matter how nice or even doormat-ish you are, your high-conflict ex isn't going to cooperate with you. And that means letting yourself off the hook from trying to do all the heavy-lifting of co-parenting by yourself; it's just not sustainable...or healthy. For you, a healthy resolution might be self care, engaging a mediator, filing a motion in court, or all three.
Just as co-parenting isn't a one-size-fits-all proposition, neither are resolutions for co-parents. A good resolution is anything that serves your child's best interest and helps you stay the course, setting your sights on what is more workable, and leaving behind what hasn't worked.
What are your co-parenting resolutions for 2014? What are you leaving behind in 2013? Tell us in the comments!
Happy New Year from our co-parenting family to yours!