"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is." - Baseball legend Yogi Berra
As New Years approaches, you say you want a resolution? How about resolving to be a better co-parent in 2012?
Here are 3 tips that might help you accomplish just this.
1. Lighten up on judgments of your co-parent. Face the fact that your co-parent will always disappoint you. No matter how much they try, or brush up their skills, you two just might have evolved too differently to ever bridge the divide. There will always be some perception gap and with that may come some harsh judgments -- some deserved and some pumped up by the fear of your differences. Here, a little less judgment goes a long way.
2. Lower and then manage your expectations. By definition your co-parent will always be "less than." Otherwise you might be together. Over-indulging in the fear that your co-parent is sub-par clearly isn't conducive to building children's self-esteem. It muddies up the situation and increases the wobble for bifurcated children.
Over time kids develop their own ideas of the good reasons why you two aren't together, as well as what are your strengths and weaknesses. The freer and clearer the path between co-parents the easier it is for your offspring to develop a view that is accurate as opposed to distorted. If a bifurcated young one is coming home reasonably well from their other parent, trust that you are in better shape than your fears might otherwise suggest.
3. Do the right thing as if no one was looking. Internalize the difference between the letter and the spirit of your custody agreements -- and cleave to them. Really get it, absorb on a very deep and nuanced level that because you're not under the same roof, you're asking bifurcated children to do something arguably harder than you ask of yourselves. If one parent is perceived as the 'back up' parent, strive not to label this parent as 'less than.'
Co-parents, you are on the cutting edge of a cultural generational shift. Your kids' one shot at childhood is spent as turtle-birds, with their strollers and then backpacks migrating from nest to nest. To cross the DMZ line between parents is a courageous and potentially dangerous thing to do, and it's more difficult still when conflict is in the air. To cultivate resilience in your children, try to turn down the anger on your anxiety, disappointment and rage. How you co-parent today affects generations to come and your lineage forever. The choice is yours.
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