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Divorce, Co-Parenting, and the Movies

I’ve seen some exceptional movies recently, and while I don’t think the intention of the movie was to talk about divorce and co-parenting – the movies provided excellent examples of divorce, parenting, co-parenting, re-coupling,  the reconfigured families  – and the good, sad and the ugly.  While being entertained, there are definitely some good take away lessons.

Chef

It’s hard not to love a movie about good food with a fun and entertaining cast.   The movie Chef, is about a chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.

“John Favreau was Chef Carl Casper, divorced from Inez (Sophia Vergara). Together they had a 10 year-old son named Percy (Emjay Anthony). The relationship that developed between Dad/Carl and Son/Percy with some coaching initially from Mom/Inez was not only touching but illustrated how critical it was for Dad to take the plunge from focusing on himself to his child and addressing his son’s craving for a connection with him. Dad was able to pass down his grit, humiliation and love for cooking, all of which would’ve been lost without his son to want to soak up these life lessons and perhaps pass down to his own kid. Movie review aside, while the child here truly needed his dad, and maybe not the other way around, the relationship brought each other what no one else in the world could have.”   http://jcminches.blogspot.ca/2014/06/fathers-day.html

Lessons learned:

  • Children want time with their parents
  • Pay attention to the signals your kids are giving you:
    • if they ask to join you in an activity, let them….even if you think they might be bored.
    • if they want an extra hug and kiss, arm around their shoulder and so…..provide it, they want to feel your love.
  • If you feel uncomfortable including your child in an activity they want to join you in, try to find common ground – and spend some time afterwards.
  • Don’t measure your time in minutes or hours, it’s the quality of time that counts.
  • If your kids are calling you, take the time to speak with them.  They want to connect.

Boyhood

Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes.

“This movie could have been called “Girlhood,” “Motherhood,” or “Fatherhood.” As I was watching the film, a mother of two (and friend of mine) was sniffling and dabbing her eyes with a Kleenex as Mason heads off to college; her son was graduating from high school the very next day. It’s not just about the boy growing up and moving on, it’s also about Mason’s mother (Patricia Arquette) accepting that she’s now an empty-nester. It’s also about Mason’s father (Ethan Hawke) understanding his role (or lack thereof) in his son’s life. In short, “Boyhood” has something for every person to identify with.” Huffington Post

Lessons learned:

  • While a parent might not necessarily agree with their co-parents parenting style, as long as the children are safe, there is nothing you can do – and be supportive of their relationship.
  • Even when parents can’t live together, it is possible to co-parent effectively apart.
  • Look closely within when repeating negative relationship patterns, and take responsibility when children are harmed. For example, in the movie, Mason’s mother remarried twice, both husbands were alcoholics and abusive to her and her children.
  • When moving multiple times, think about how children are going to be impacted.  For example, how are they going to maintain friendships, make new friends, and have constancy and continuity in their lives.

It is possible possible for a step-parent to have a good relationship with their partner’s co-parent.

Looking at these movies from the perspective of a single parent myself, I recognize it isn’t always easy.  Having raised three children on my own, I know that:

  • I’m far from perfect, but putting my children’s best interest despite my issues, needs to be first and foremost.
  • I can only take responsibility for my own behaviour.  My co-parent is responsible for his.
  • It’s up to me to be a good role model for my children:
    • show them how much I love them, and make them feel loved
    • provide them with a healthy example to follow
    • make them my priority
    • make them feel secure
    • apologize when I’m wrong.

Related posts:

 Successful Co-Parenting Post Divorce

How to Avoid Blending Families Break-Ups

Tips for a Successful Holiday Parenting Plan

Whatever your frame of mind or situation at this stage of your divorce, The Smart Divorce offers divorce books, DIY divorce kits and divorce information tools that will help you gain clarity, perspective and a smarter next step.  Check out The Smart Divorce ToolKit for cost effective divorce support.

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