Before you dismiss your co-parenting communication style as hopeless, remember why you keep trying to make it work: your children. For the sake of their mental health they need to have a relationship with both of you, and definitely deserve to feel that they are front and centre in both of your lives. Having a co-parenting relationship where you work together as a team in order to put your children first and raise them together, will put your children in a good place where they are more likely to thrive and develop into happier, healthier adults.
If you want to send a message of undivided love, then consider doing the unthinkable; take a beach vacation with your ex. This shows your children that they still matter and are loved by you and the other parent and also signals to the children that despite a new co-parenting family dynamic, they will still be cherished and given the opportunity to experience family bonding activities.
When most parents separate, there is a strong unwillingness from the parents to bond as a unit, and this deprives the children of having positive memories to push them forward during this challenging time. The key in triumphing the difficulty of possibly vacationing with your ex is to first accept that it may be stressful and challenging, and you may even struggle to be completely in accordance with seeing it through. However, the idea itself deserves some serious thought, as it can be great for you and your children in the long run. Remember, the court always looks at your children’s best interests, and you should too.
It took my husband and I and his ex and her husband along with the ex-in-laws 20 years to finally decide to take a beach vacation as a co-parenting family. It was the first time since my stepson was three years old, and then in his early twenties at the time, was with his biological parents together on a beach vacation. This illustrates my previous point of how children can be deprived of such memorable experiences when parents become divorced. So, instead of prolonging the air of resentful boundaries, we went out of the way to make it a positive experience for everyone and most of all, this trip successfully demonstrated to my stepson that positivity after challenging times was possible, and it was also something to strive for. In the end, this vacation was much more than just a trip to the beach, it was a life lesson that everyone learnt from and enabled us all together as a blended family to move even further forward.
Children can feel when both parents love them and want to spend time with them. If they’re old enough to understand how hard this might be for us as parents, then spending time as a blended family can show them our commitment and our unconditional to an even greater degree. We are literally doing something that may be last on our list of desires, however, we vowed from the start to move forward by simply focusing on what we promised to do, which was putting our child first.
Behind the Scenes – Preparing for the Vacation Both Emotionally and Spiritually
Prepare yourself emotionally by collectively discussing everyone’s expectations for the trip together. Spiritually, willing to leave the past behind and set aside your ego and hurt, if you want to make the experience a positive one. If there are minor issues with your ex during the vacation, which there might be, the most important rule is to always breathe and remember to respect each other. Both of you need to be the bigger person and address any tensions as quickly as they come, with as much resolve as possible. If you have young children, it is best to keep any disagreeing conversations out of the vicinity of the child(ren). Also, it is imperative to never argue about anything that directly involves the children in their presence. For example, don’t say “YES, he can have ice cream now” when your ex just told him “NO, he (or she) can’t it’s too close to lunch”. Set the ground rules early on and avoid falling into the usual traps of past negative behaviours.
Setting the Stage for Success
For my beach vacation experience, we had travelled together as a unit to our destination. This helped break the ice and enabled us to grow accustomed to being together, which set the stage for a positive start. Eat at least one meal a day together and try to keep the conversation light without mentioning any past negativity. Also, aim to participate in a handful of activities together and set-up a collaborative mindset, so for example: those who get to the beach first can save places for everyone as they make their way. This creates a habit of helping one another, which instills positive reinforcement that this co-parenting arrangement truly is a unified unit.
Play a supporting role
Children learn how to socially interact with others by closely observing their parents. Listen, really listen, when your child speaks to you. Observe how the interactions are going. Is your child happy? Are the children comfortable with all of you together? Is your child showing signs of withdrawal? Are you all fully engaged with each other? These questions are guidelines into how this situation is working and what you might do to make it better for your child(ren). Protect your child by leaving your negative feelings backstage. My ultimate objective was always making my stepson feel unique, important and truly special. Most importantly, the purpose was to create a sense of connection and love from both his biological-parents and step-parents.
Your Child(ren) is the Main Character
This is a meaningful event for you and your child(ren). The aim here is to help your child create happy post-divorce memories together, so open your horizons on how much positivity this trip can bring, and do take some family pictures together, it was hilarious for us !
The benefit from my beach vacation was that it enhanced our blended family to a higher level of togetherness and friendship. My stepson had the benefit of all four caring parents that stood as role models, with all family members learning to appreciate their differences. What a beautiful gift you can give your child, and even yourself.
Co-parenting in harmony – everyone in the mix will benefit from it. Love and compassion always changes everything.
Co-Parenting Beach Vacation, why not! Just chill out and enjoy the margaritas !!!
Anna is a first person advocate for Co-parenting in Harmony. As a child of divorce, stepmom, and now a proud Nana, she has 30 years of personal co-parenting experience. With her multiple certifications; Anna illuminates your path and interrupts the negative patterns to create positive changes with a focus on enhancing your family life harmoniously. Anna is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner who specializes in Co-parenting and is an International Best Selling Author: Co-Parenting in Harmony: The Art of Putting Your Child’s Soul First. Anna offers solution-focused and collaborative approaches for challenges of co-parenting and stepfamily life. To learn more about Anna’s work, check out her https://www.annagiannone.com/.