Featued on Huffington Post Sept 22, 2015
Newly divorced and dating but why does it have to be so complicated?
He’s attractive, sensitive and so much fun to be with. He’s also moody, quick to anger and can be hard to talk to. Why? Because life is complicated when you have an ex to deal with and a child that means the world to you. But I love the man and his child just as much and we have to learn how to walk this life together.
Looking back on those early years when my husband and I dated I realized how chaotic everything was for us. I wanted to get along with his ex I wanted his child to trust me.
In the process of all of this, I knew that someone would have to shift their focus to become aware as to how all this negative energy was affecting our child’s behaviour and our relationship. I decided that person would be me. I licked my wounds, taught myself to listen, really listen and to express myself better and when I made that shift everything started to fall into place.
That’s a lot of pressure for one person but I decided it would begin with me. I had to, as Gandhi so wisely out it, “Be the change I wanted to see.”
It wasn’t easy. To me, letting go meant that I would have to forgive the ex of the past behaviour. Parenting with a bellyful of emotions, my reactions were always about payback time in words or in actions. These toxic communications affected my health, my work environment even my new relationship… I was emotionally and physically spent. But every time I caught myself complaining, I’d shift my thoughts to “what can I do to make things better?” and you know what? Things got better! Preoccupied with anger, jealousy, revenge, pettiness… there was no room for any of that with a little child to care for; a young child who also went through the divorce with his parents. It was very difficult.
Ex spouses with children need to learn how to communicate in a way that will allow them to go forward as parenting-partners for their children. You never want your children to have to choose sides. Or to wonder which side of the soccer field to run to after their game was over because their parents will be sitting on the same side. They won’t have to struggle with their own wedding plans and other milestone events because their parents made the effort to figure out how to keep things together.
So how can you go about becoming a better Co-parent and live in harmony? To begin with, you can adopt the 5 Cs of Communication for Co-parents from my toolkit to shift from chaos to harmony:
Courage: Have the courage to let go of the past and drop the chaos. Let go of he said/she said, he did this/she did that. In understanding your emotions you can move forward. It’s past and you cannot change the past so why give it the power to control your present and future? Release negative emotions, judgments and beliefs that don’t serve you here and now in your new reality.
Connection: Most especially, to yourself. You have the power to connect with yourself and rediscover who you really are. Go to sleep at night grateful for what you have and with a plan to make positive connections with yourself and the people in your life. Look for what is good in your life. Stop blaming and pointing fingers. Start to engage into a business-like relationship with your ex. It’s not about keeping score, who is winning and who’s losing; it’s about making connections that will allow you to see and feel and connect to what your child needs and finding ways within yourself to provide for yourself and for your precious child.
Consciousness: Make the conscious decision to be in the present moment. Be mindful of how you speak, aware of your behaviour, sensitive to the other people involved and co-committed to the outcome of situations. This becomes contagious and causes a chain reaction of good following good. Upscale your behaviour. If you can’t be parents-partners, then be professional partners to your ex. Bring awareness to your surroundings and stop taking things personally so you can respond in a conscious way to the bigger picture.
Confidence: Find it in yourself to let go of trying to control the other parent and find the confidence within you to know what’s best and do what’s best. Make empowered choices on behalf of the child; the more you work as partners and begin to see the good results that come from this, the more you build your confidence. You can do this. It’s important to instill confidence and reassurance even through difficult times. Yes effort is required but the rewards are priceless.
Commitment: Finally commit to happiness and with emotional integrity. Return to nature. Focus your energy on seeing the good on a daily basis. Make it your top priority to commit to have a civil and kind relationship with your ex. When you change, your environment changes and when you do better, things get better. Commit to transforming the relationship by creating a new dynamic.
When you begin to accept the past and decide to have a conscious relationship with your ex for better Co-parenting and no longer engage into a chaos relationship, it becomes easier to believe that you can be an amazing person and yes do amazing things again.
Seriously it’s not worth it to carry that big red balloon filled with negative emotions everywhere you go. Visualize it, on a bright sunny day, let it fly away and allow yourself to have a conscious relationship with your ex, be mindful, just be in the present moment for your own sake and your child.
Through my experience, our job as Co-parents, is to take an unsatisfactory situation and smooth out the rough edges as best we can! Harmony is what we all need for today and a brighter future that we pass on to the next generation.
Send me a note, or comment below! I would love to hear your story!