Do you ever find yourself caught up in the blame game? Recently, while driving through British Columbia with my husband on a narrow, windy two-lane road, pulling a fifth wheel, we got stuck behind an ancient-looking, worn-out travel trailer moving at half the speed limit. My husband patiently waited for the right moment to pass. Finally, he found an opportunity, edged up close, and began moving to the left.
However, just a split second before that, a car behind us, its driver failing to notice my husband’s intention to pass, also pulled out to overtake us. Unaware of this, my husband continued, unintentionally forcing the car off the road. Chaos ensued: angry honking, mud splashing, and hearts pounding. We ended up three vehicles abreast on a two-lane road with an oncoming car in the distance. Thankfully, the car to our left sped past us, and my husband quickly moved back into the right lane, averting a disaster. We continued down the road, with my husband understandably shaken, grumbling about the other driver’s actions.
As we approached a construction zone, I noticed the car we nearly ran off the road was now in front of us. I was concerned that the driver would confront my husband, but to my surprise, he waved at us in a friendly, relieved manner. He seemed to be saying, “Hey fellow human being, we survived a potentially disastrous incident. I’m glad we’re both safe. Have a good day!”
Blame is a peculiar thing when you think about it. It assumes that life should always be perfect, and when something goes wrong, it must be due to someone’s mistake. In reality, life is messy and unpredictable, like the near-miss incident. Neither my husband nor the other driver intended for it to happen. Blaming each other would have turned them into caricatures of themselves, not reflective of their true intentions.
Blame often arises in co-parenting situations due to the distress and high stakes involved. When divorced co-parents worry about their children, they may be quick to blame each other for any mishaps. However, constantly blaming the other parent can emotionally harm the children, making them feel insecure and distressed. Constructive feedback is helpful, but blaming is not.
Instead of resorting to blame, it’s essential to assess if the issue is worth fighting about. Some matters demand attention, but many can be let go for the sake of your well-being and your children’s. Accept that life isn’t perfect, and you can’t control everything, especially other people, including your co-parent.
By letting go of blame, you’ll face the truth that life is imperfect, which can lead to personal growth and a grounded perspective. Acknowledge that your co-parent may also be doing their best. The ability to stop blaming is liberating, as it allows you to focus on what truly matters and create a healthier co-parenting environment.
“Cyberspying” is an unsettling trend among divorced or separated parents who use technology to monitor their children’s activities during their time with the other parent. This behavior is often driven by various motives, including the desire to alter co-parenting arrangements. Family lawyers Alan Plevy and Kyung (Kathryn) Dickerson have observed an increase in such instances.
The proliferation of smartphones and computers with webcams has made it easy for parents to keep tabs on what’s happening at the other parent’s house during their custody time. Some common practices include:
- Using GPS or apps like “Find My iPhone” to track children’s locations.
- Engaging in video chats via platforms like FaceTime or Skype, then scrutinizing or questioning the background activities.
- Insisting children connect via webcam at specific times to verify they are adhering to routines, such as taking medication or going to bed on time.
- Setting up webcams on children’s devices to automatically record their surroundings.
Dickerson points out that this is a clear example of the law lagging behind technology. More importantly, such behavior places children in the middle of their parents’ conflict. If the monitored parent decides to remove the child’s phone or computer to prevent spying, the child may feel punished by the loss of their technology.
However, when used correctly, technology can serve as a valuable tool for maintaining connection between parents and children, especially in shared parenting situations. For instance, a parent can read a bedtime story to their child via Skype or assist with homework online when they are apart. In unfortunate circumstances where one parent is abusive or struggles with substance issues, cell phones can provide a lifeline, enabling children to reach out to the other parent for emergency help.
Plevy advises parents who are concerned about the happenings in the other parent’s house to focus on what’s truly important. For example, if there’s a one-hour difference in bedtime at the other parent’s house, is it worth a major conflict? He emphasizes that effective communication and compromise can significantly resolve custody disputes, although certain issues like abuse may necessitate court intervention. “Generally, the best approach is to negotiate with the other parent,” Plevy suggests. “Try to reach an agreement on contentious points like bedtime or vacation plans, eliminating the need for spying.”
In the context of divorce, it’s essential to consider the Children’s Bill of Rights, which outlines the rights children deserve during this challenging time. It emphasizes the need for communication, love, and support from both parents, without putting the children in the middle of any conflicts.
Remember that the Children’s Bill of Rights is not legally enforceable, but it serves as a reminder to prioritize the best interests of the children.
Children’s Bill of Rights from DivorceHQ.com Here is another Children’s Bill of Rights which I came across and should help divorcing parents think about what the best interests of the children really mean and other ideas to accomplish this. We the children of the divorcing parents, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish these Bill Of Rights for all children.
- The right not to be asked to “choose sides” or be put in a situation where I would have to take sides between my parents.
- The right to be treated as a person and not as a pawn, possession or a negotiating chip.
- The right to freely and privately communicate with both parents.
- The right not to be asked questions by one parent about the other.
- The right not to be a messenger.
- The right to express my feelings.
- The right to adequate visitation with the non-custodial parent which will best serve my needs and wishes.
- The right to love and have a relationship with both parents without being made to feel guilty.
- The right not to hear either parent say anything bad about the other.
- The right to the same educational opportunities and economic support that I would have had if my parents did not divorce.
- The right to have what is in my best interest protected at all times.
- The right to maintain my status as a child and not to take on adult responsibilities for the sake of the parent’s well being.
- The right to request my parents seek appropriate emotional and social support when needed.
- The right to expect consistent parenting at a time when little in my life seems constant or secure.
- The right to expect healthy relationship modeling, despite the recent events.
- The right to expect the utmost support when taking the time and steps needed to secure a healthy adjustment to the current situation.
Please realize that this is NOT law, anywhere. The “Children’s’ Bill of Rights” is not legally enforceable, but rather suggestions made to keep the best interest of the child a priority.
Coparenting is the movies
Recently, I had the pleasure of watching some exceptional movies that unintentionally shed light on divorce, co-parenting, and reconfigured families. These films provided both entertaining stories and valuable lessons about parenting and co-parenting, showing us the good, sad, and ugly sides of these experiences.
- “Chef”: “Chef” is a heartwarming tale of a chef, Carl Casper (played by John Favreau), who loses his restaurant job and decides to start a food truck while reconnecting with his estranged family. Throughout the movie, we witness the touching relationship between Carl and his 10-year-old son, Percy (Emjay Anthony). The film emphasizes the significance of Carl shifting his focus from himself to his child, addressing Percy’s yearning for a connection with his father. This bond allows Carl to pass down valuable life lessons, such as his passion for cooking and resilience, to his son.
- Children crave quality time with their parents, so pay attention to their signals and involve them in activities.
- Embrace opportunities to express love and affection to your kids; it reassures them of your care.
- If you feel hesitant about involving your child in an activity, find common ground and spend time together afterward.
- The value of time spent with your child lies in its quality, not its duration.
- Be attentive when your children reach out to you; they seek connection and communication.
- “Boyhood”: “Boyhood,” a groundbreaking film shot over 12 years with the same cast, follows the life of a child named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he grows up before our eyes. The movie not only portrays Mason’s journey but also touches on his mother (Patricia Arquette) as an empty-nester and his father’s (Ethan Hawke) understanding of his role in Mason’s life. It delves into the complexities of co-parenting and highlights the impact parents’ decisions can have on their children’s lives.
- Support your co-parent’s relationship with the children, even if you disagree with their parenting style.
- Co-parenting effectively apart is possible when the focus remains on the children’s well-being.
- Reflect on negative relationship patterns and take responsibility for any harm caused to the children.
- Consider the impact of multiple moves on your children’s stability and relationships.
As a single parent myself, I understand the challenges of co-parenting. Raising three children on my own has taught me important lessons:
- Prioritize my children’s best interests above all else.
- Take responsibility for my actions and let my co-parent be accountable for theirs.
- Be a positive role model by showing my children love, providing a healthy example, and making them feel secure.
- Apologize when I make mistakes and strive to be the best parent I can be.
Movies like “Chef” and “Boyhood” can offer valuable insights into the world of co-parenting, reminding us of the importance of putting children’s needs first and fostering strong parent-child relationships.
Navigating the waters of co-parenting after a divorce can be an extremely difficult task. It requires a sense of empathy, patience, and a commitment to maintaining a healthy family dynamic for the sake of your children’s well-being. The key to successful co-parenting lies in effective communication and a willingness to compromise.
Remember, it’s not about you or your ex-partner, but about your children. Prioritize communication and always keep your children’s best interests at heart. This might mean setting aside negative emotions towards your ex-spouse and focusing on the shared goal of raising your children in a stable, loving environment.
Co-parenting is not a one-time event but a lifelong commitment. It’s about creating a parenting plan that suits both parents and benefits the children. It’s about being flexible, adapting to changes, and being willing to work together to resolve conflicts.
It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this journey. Seek advice from a family therapist or a social worker if you’re finding it challenging to navigate this new arrangement. There are also online programs and resources available to help you navigate the complexities of co-parenting.
In the end, successful co-parenting means giving your children a sense of security and stability. It means showing them that even though their parents live separate lives, they are still a priority. It’s about ensuring that your children feel loved and cared for, no matter the circumstances.
Remember, you and your ex-partner are still a team when it comes to your children. You may no longer be partners in life, but you are forever partners in raising your children. So, let’s put our differences aside, communicate effectively, and create a positive co-parenting partnership for the sake of our children’s well-being.
In the words of a wise mediator, “Divorce is the dissolution of the legal contract between a married couple. It means the transforming of a family, not the ending of a family.” Let’s keep this in mind as we navigate the challenging but rewarding path of co-parenting.
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