BRAVE + PRACTICAL CO-PARENTING

Those are my babies up there. My beautiful, kind, smart and loving babies. I’m so proud of them. I snapped this iPhone picture in the car right after I picked them up from my former in-laws after my baby daddy got married to his lovely new wife. It was a weekend full of ALL the emotions for me. {every last one of them}

There was a finality about that weekend… a moving forward and embracing the new season that was handed to me by the universe. There was a heaping dose of joy and some pain mixed in for good measure. But at the core of it… for me… were these tiny humans. And they are the main reason that I have fought so hard to overcome my very real human tendencies so that I have a healthy relationship with their father and step-mom.

It has not been easy but it HAS been worth it, and we need to continue this conversation about brave co-parenting. {because to be successful at it, you MUST be the kind of brave that they write about in best-sellers}

I’ve written to you all before about some broad brush stroke co-parenting philosophies that I believe are so very important. And I have heard from so many of you that it has challenged and provoked conversations. Hooray! BUT… now we need to get down to brass tacks + cut to the chase + shit or get off the pot.

First, a couple of disclaimers. I understand that it takes both sides to make things work well. The goal here is to get us to act right even when the other side isn’t. Sowing seeds of peace and respect will reap a harvest of peace of respect in your life. So tend to your own plot and expect that it will bring change on the other side during harvest season. Second, I am NOT speaking to victims of physical or sexual abuse here. You stay the hell away from them and do everything in your power to keep your babies away from them as well. BUT – for most of us, it boils down to the fact that it just didn’t work out. We couldn’t get past being hurt or disappointed… we fell out of love {which is a whole different post YOU GUYS}… things were just a little too hard and we caved… these are the usual suspects. But if you are a victim of something physically dangerous to you and your babies, this post is not directed at you. Yes, you need to forgive for your own peace and sanity. But you do not need to subject yourself to that mess ever again. 

Are you with me? {stay with me, loves}

I’m going to give you some very practical steps to take that will move you in the right direction.

1. First, forgive yourself. The failure of a relationship is never ever {EVER} one-sided. We all need to be honest about how we contributed to the tearing, say it out loud and then let it go. It’s ok to move forward no matter what you did or did not do. It is necessary to move beyond the lies and the self-loathing and the excuses. Forgive yourself and then trust yourself again. I used to think that I deserved the guilt and the regret that I felt for the part I played in my marriage ending. But loves, I promise you that guilt and regret are selfish feelings…. it’s not just you that suffers the consequence of holding onto that pain. Everyone, including your children, suffers from it.

2. Forgive them. And this means changing your thinking. Forgiveness is more than a word… it’s a way of living with your heart open towards someone even though they hurt you. Don’t think you can do that? Bullshit. Yes you can and yes you should. Believing something other than that is you believing you are frail and weak. And you aren’t. You are more than that… so buck up, buttercup. You’ve got this. You may need to say it out loud to them. But if you can’t, say it out loud to yourself and then LIVE like you have forgiven them. That means ripping up the score card and starting fresh. That means making immediate changes in our thinking towards them. {no, they aren’t necessarily out to get you. no, they aren’t necessarily going to stab you in the back again. they might… but I can promise that if you expect them to, that chance goes up by exactly 1067%}

3. Teach your children how to honor their other parent. We all know the best way to teach is to lead by example… so let’s try to show respect to our baby-daddy/momma every chance we get. Speak kindly about them in front of your children. {GASP} Help them buy a mother’s/father’s day card and deliver it with a gift. {WTH} And do this even if they don’t reciprocate. {WTF} Here is the harsh truth – you aren’t responsible for how they act towards you… you ARE responsible for how you act towards them. And believe me, your babies are watching either way. 

4. COMMUNICATE. Don’t withhold information about your children from the other parent. It’s extremely difficult to parent without all of the pertinent information. I know that holding details close to the vest makes us feel like we have an advantage over the other parent – but that is spiteful and counter-productive. Let’s be better than that. Talk to each other regularly because you made babies together and it is your privilege and GIFT from God to parent them well. There is zero room for lack of communication when the successful rearing of tiny humans is on the line. DO BETTER, loves. And communicate like adults… like you would with anyone else that you need to have productive outcomes with… with respect and basic decency. Stop with the passive aggressive wording + vagueness + awkwardness. Talk it out with kindness at the core.

And listen up, this is not just about schedules and co-pays. This is about how you are going to RAISE YOUR BABIES. How they are going to learn about relationships and dating – how they are going to learn how to respect their elders and treat the opposite sex with honor – how they are going to learn work ethic – how they are going to learn about faith and service. What kind of humans do you want to raise? I promise that parenting them together is going to up your success rate by a gazillion. DO NOT place your babies in the center of your pride-full war. Working together with real love and joy between you is absolutely going to result in some kick-ass tiny human rearing. 

5. This last one is the most important. And because I believe in the Divine, I’m going to go there for a minute. {If you’re not there… read anyway and see if something speaks to you} Ask God to show you how to love the unlovable. Ask Spirit to give you insight into HOW to co-parent well even when it seems impossible. Sometimes things are so difficult that there is no way we can do it alone. I understand that this is the case for SO MANY of you who are in 2 home/co-parenting situations. You CAN do hard things – but sometimes the really hard parts of life require some supernatural intervention. So lean into that. Open your heart, listen and then obey that voice.

I understand that what I am asking seems like too much. I know of so many dysfunctional co-parenting relationships and it’s sad to see the turmoil that causes in people’s hearts – sometimes even years after the gavel strikes in family court. But it doesn’t have to be that way! YOU are worth it and most certainly your babies are worth it.

Last thing and then you can be on your way. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear from you… how do YOU make your co-parenting thing work for your family? What are some ways that you have found to bridge the gap+let it go+move forward? Talk to me in the comments below… or shoot me an email to saltandcharm@gmail.com. 

I sure do love you all! (especially YOU!)

-Abs

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