As you know from our last blog post, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have decided to finally separate and call it quits. However, one odd thing still circling the media is how amicable the two are being as they continue to raise their family together after their divorce. Both Kim K and Kanye share joint custody, like with many divorced couples, and this process always seems “straight-forward” and amicable until, well – it isn’t. So how do celebrities, with all their fame and publicity, get through the nasty, not-so-fun parts of co-parenting? More importantly, how can we emulate that in our own lives, even though our divorce “faux pas” may not be published on the front page of Us Weekly? Today, we are going to discuss three value systems that I believe are the cornerstones for co-parenting, and how we can apply these skills to become even better leaders for our children.
While joint custody arrangements seem relatively simple, they are not always 50/50. That is because there are a lot of smaller concerns involved with co-parenting that do not get discussed: who will get the kids ready for school, missing out on your child’s Piano recitals, loneliness around the holidays, kids practicing favoritism, and other anxieties that often burden parents during these challenging times.
There are many different ways to curb these anxieties when in a co-parenting situation. According to Psychology today, post “family-court” is the best time to practice healthy boundaries. For example, one suggestion was to keep a tight schedule when it comes to the custody and visitation times. Another interesting suggestion was to have firm limits around when each parent can expect to communicate with one another. This also helps facilitate a healthy foundation for co-parenting when there is a history of one person getting “bombarded” with requests. For example, one party could say to the other: “Moving forward, except in the cases of emergencies, I will read and respond to all emails or communications on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5-5:30 pm”
While this may be an extreme measure for some, for others, it is blaringly necessary to delineate the boundaries between communication after family court is a thing of the past. Many individuals act on their best behavior in front of the Judge but tend to lose that discipline when they are just amongst themselves.
Psychology Today also made it a point to emphasize the importance of having a healthy relationship with yourself during this co-parenting adjustment period. You are going to likely experience much more alone time now that your children are splitting their time between you and your ex, so take advantage of it. Take extra time to treat yourself. Whether you book a trip, make a massage appointment, or let loose at happy hour with your friends, make sure you are fostering your own sense of identity. Try to think of this newfound time as a gift.
When you are stressed, everyone around you, particularly your children, are the first ones to pick up that energy. Focus on setting the best example you can set for your kids by being the example. Show them that anxiously picking at issues will only make everyone miserable. By practicing healthy boundaries and self-care, you are teaching your children one of the most important lessons they will learn in life: how to be strong and independent. Lessons that they would have had to learn the hard way had you not paved the path for them.
As hard as it is, make sure you are speaking respectfully about everyone involved, especially to your children. You must show your children that they can form their own opinions about each person without imposing your own ideas on them, particularly when they involve your ex. When it comes to discussing issues, you have with the other party, make sure when you communicate with your ex, you are calmly expressing your concerns and offering a reasonable solution. Try to not attack the other person if they choose a different parenting style than you, but rather, explain why you think you need to be on the same page for the sake of your children’s well-being, and not for the sake of pride.
There is no article on the internet that is going to tell you co-parenting is an easy feat. It is simply not. Whether you are dealing with a narcissist ex, juggling court dates, or worried about being left out of experiences with your kids, you are completely not alone. So many people are struggling with these same exact problems, and there are countless resources and communities to get you through each step. Breathe a sigh of relief because not only are you going to get through this, but you are also going to become an even stronger role model for your kids, giving them a life template, they can rely on for the rest of their life.