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Co-Parenting; Your Thrive Guide
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Co-Parenting; Your Thrive Guide

Author: Deborah Lenee

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An inspiring, engaging and informative podcast for all your co-parenting dilemmas.
40 Episodes
1. Show Compassion to yourself firstAllow yourself to really feel what you are feeling. Be compassionate with yourself just as you would with a friend or your child. Ask for support if you need it. 2. Awareness of the pain of self-pityFeeling sorry for yourself not only creates pain for you but it creates pain for others too. Not many people want to be around you if you are always down.  Instead of seeing that as something else to feel hurt about, become aware of the pain you are creating for yourself.No one can make you feel anything, only you control the way you feel.3. NO VICTIM – refuse to be a victimVictim mentality is typically the cause of self pitying behavior. It’s called the drama cycle and with this cycle we choose to blame someone or something else for the way we feel.Decide that your relationships are too important and make a stand and refuse to be a victim. 4. Questions that keep you stuckThe question we as victims most often ask themselves is “Why?”“Why is this happening to me?”“Why did she do that?”“Why did he say that to me?”These are low quality questions and with these questions you will receive low quality answers. For example;“Because you’re not good enough..”“Because he doesn’t like you”“Because she doesn’t truly value your friendship.”Any question beginning with “Why” will keep you stuck in your current situation feeling like a victim. Decide to NEVER use the word “Why” from your vocabulary and replace it with words like “What”, “How” and “When”.For example;“What can I do to get a different outcome?”“When will I contact her and explain how I feel?”“How can I change the situation?”As you change the quality of your questions, you will see empowered you will feel.5. Perception and your responsibilityIf we have consistently see things in a negative way, it’s likely we will continue to do so unless we bring awareness to the table.Our perception creates our reality and by changing our viewpoint, we are able to change any experience.  Take responsibility for the way you are viewing a situation and challenge yourself to see it in a different way.6. Be courageousIt takes courage to hold up the mirror and look at our part in things, but this is the only way to make real change. This is because we only ever have complete control and influence over ourselves.Holding up the mirror doesn’t mean beating yourself up for your mistakes. This is just another form of self pity.  As you make these changes, you will notice your self-pity decrease and self-empowerment increase. 7. Acknowledging the positive things in your life.The fastest way to turn this around is to make it a practice to regularly focus on the good. You may have heard this before and that’s because it’s true.  Keep a gratitude journal.  8. Noticing others that have it worse.With all the events and the pandemic happening in our world right now, it’s easy to find examples of others less fortunate. This is comparison used in a positive way.Instead of feeling wrapped up in your own world, look for ways you can help others.Contributing to others is one of the fastest ways to start feeling good and taking your attention away from yourself. This is good for you and good for others. And you will notice your self-confidence and empowerment soar.  
Learning to Rely on the "other" Co-Parent”, not an easy thing to do.  It is a tough order to depend on the other co-parent especially if there have been trust issues in your past relationship with them. Vincent de Paul is recorded as having asked:  “What do you think is most often the cause of our failings in our resolutions? It’s that we depend too much on ourselves, we put trust in our good desires, we rely on our own strength, and that’s the reason we don’t get any good results from them.” Here are some tips to help you be more accepting of help from others.Learn to be vulnerable.Explore your beliefs on receiving.Give others an opportunity to give.Pay it forward instead of returning it.Feel the love, be grateful and presentPractice accepting help from everyone, even strangers.1. Allowing  yourself to be VulnerableTo accept help, you have to let go of control and be vulnerable. For some, that may be the hardest hurdle to overcome but it is important in order to let others step in and help.2. Examine your beliefs on receiving.If you’re having difficulty others take control, examine some of the reasons this may be. Being vulnerable is not a weakness and neither is asking for help.·         What’s stopping me from accepting help?·         Do you feel that you don’t deserve to receive their compliment or love? Why do you feel that way?3. Give others an opportunity to give.Receiving is not only about you. It’s also about the giver. Imagine a well-intention, loving person giving you something and you reject their gifts. How would that make them feel? Unappreciated? Awkward? Embarrassed? Open yourself up and let others help and give you this most precious gift.4. Pay it forward instead of returning it.Sometimes when people aren’t comfortable with receiving, they would return the love, the compliment, or the gifts in another form immediately. For example, when someone gives them a gift, they feel obliged to find something to give back.When it’s your time to receive, it’s important for you to embrace the moment. Don’t be in a hurry to give back to the other person. You are just deflecting their love back to them. It’s like: “I can’t receive your love. Here have it back.” Then what you give them, would not be authentic.5. Feel the love, live in the moment and show gratitude.To receive is such a beautiful experience. Start a journal of gratitude to write down how thankful you are to have someone in your life that cares for you and gives you support when you most need it. Unfortunately many in this world aren’t as fortunate.6. Practice accepting help everywhere.You don’t have to wait for someone to give you help to practice receiving. Whenever you need help, just ask for it. Don’t worry about being rejected. Give others an opportunity to help you. If they aren’t the one, move on to the next.  
We can sum this up in one word: easy. Co-parenting is not easy. Parenting is already no cakewalk, and when you add in the stress of a raising a child together after a divorce or separation, it’s a situation that can be filled with tension and disagreements. Good communication is the key to a positive co-parenting experience. Putting the sole focus on your children rather than on yourself or your ex is the first step toward ensuring success. Co-parenting is not easy, but it’s worth the extra effort for the health and well-being of your children. Here are some other things that co-parenting is not:   Co-parenting is not about you.Nor is it about the other parent. Nor is it about why the relationship didn’t work out or whose fault it was. Co-parenting is about two people coming together to provide the warmth and attention for their children.  Agree with your ex that disparaging one another in front of the kids or allowing the kids to speak disrespectfully about either parent is strictly forbidden. Never, ever force your children to choose sides when there is a disagreement.   Co-parenting is not unstableWork with your ex on a detailed plan for raising your kids that focuses on consistent rules, bedtimes, curfews, screen time, disciplinary practices, and expectations for performance at school, work, and in extracurricular activities. The more consistent the routine between homes the better. .Co-parenting is not a competition.This is not your time to shine as the fun parent, nor as the best friend. It can be easy for guilt to get the better of you — and for your children to play on your emotions — causing you to overindulge their material wants or allow them to wiggle out of responsibilities like chores or schoolwork. It may feel good in the short term, but in the long run, it isn’t helping you or your children.Co-parenting is not even-steven.What is best for your child may not always equate to a 50-50 split between parents. If one parent travels frequently, it might make more sense for the children to spend more time with the other parent. If your ex has always taken the kids to their sports practices, don’t nix it just because it is your weekend. Talk to your children. Consider their feelings and remember, this is not about you.     Co-parenting is not always comfortable.A divorce or separation is a highly emotional and sensitive situation for everyone involved. There are bound to be hurt feelings, feeling of anger or even hostility toward your ex. Work out these feelings with a counselor or other professional, not during your dealings with your ex in matters related to the children.  Adopt a business-like tone in your communication. Make sure you communicate frequently and document all decisions you make together about the children. Share information related to the children. Is there a doctor’s appointment coming up?  Don’t hoard information thinking it will make you the hero. It won’t. A superhero is identified by his or her superhuman powers, and in this case, it is going to be your power to stay in control of your emotions for the sake of your children and make decisions from a place of empathy, peace, and love.     Parents who are separated or divorced or were never together in the first place must communicate with each other regarding their children. Good communication is key to a positive co-parenting environment.   
Handling Summertime SquabblesBuild Team FamilyEstablish a We (versus a Me) mentality. Build a team family mentality.  You can have a family cheer and/or a special handshake. You don’t have to go that route, but do look for ways to build your own united front that supports and stands up for one another. Depending on their age, have your children create projects and goals they want to accomplish together: for example, they might hold a mini-garage sale or lemonade stand with proceeds to buy a new Lego set they both want.Create a sibling treasure jar. Put money or candy in the jar when you see either of them doing something nice for the other one or making a good choice not to tease back. Once the jar is filled, they can choose what they’d like to do together: go to an aquarium, the movies, or a family fun center, for example.Celebrate their relationship. Let them make or buy gifts for each other for birthdays and holidays. Encourage times where they just go do an activity together (without friends).  Declare “Sibling Sundays,” when they get to watch a movie and eat popcorn together. Keep them on the same team when playing board games against parents.Arrange time for them to be apart from one another. Each child needs quality time alone with each parent. Have an outing together, go on a dinner date, arrange for separate play dates, and let each child go visit Grandma without the other sibling.Treat and love each child fairly and uniquely, not equally. We all have different needs. Different children require different kinds of attention at different times.Have community property and individual property. Generally speaking, most items should be community property—balls, puzzles, books, and games for example. Individual property is for “special” items. Perhaps it was a birthday gift or something they saved up for. Those items should be put somewhere special, with the rule that permission needs to be granted before they are used by the other sibling.Neutral Language7.      Minimize comparisons. Whether comparisons are positive or negative, they have the same unintended effect on your children. Instead of: You can ride your  bicycle without training wheels now, not like your sister who still rides her tricycle, try self-esteem-building statements like You look very proud of yourself that you’ve learned how to ride your bicylce without training wheels.Mediator8.      Treat each child the same. Instead of trying to figure out who was the instigator (we don’t really know what happened), you can say something like, “Kids, do you need to go to take a break for a while or do you want to work on a solution now?”Don’t play favorites. The child you are having trouble appreciating in the heat of the moment is exactly the child who also needs your love and attention. Be sensitive to this.It’s really not possible to eliminate all conflict. But it is possible to increase the bonds, trust, and warmth in your home. It’s also important to take time to teach our young children the conflict-resolution tools they can use with loved ones, friends, and coworkers in the future.  What a child doesn’t receive or have, after all, he can seldom later give.
How to Deal With Co-Parenting IssuesThe Other Parent Dislikes YouIt can be uncomfortable working with someone who doesn't like you, for the sake of your child, you and  your partner in parenting must put your differences aside. Really work on not discussing the situations in front of the children and focus only on your child.  Resist getting into disagreements and be firm and follow through with your requests.You Never Agree With Each OtherMost people who plan to have a child together do so because they have common values, beliefs, and interests.  If you and your co-parent have been bumping heads on important decisions concerning your child, you may want to try these things to resolve the issue:·    Learn to compromise so you get what you want sometimes, and she gets what she wants other times.·         Set up a cooperative agreement by using a mediator, if needed.·         If possible, don't make decisions on the spot. In addition, if one parent won't agree and the other won't compromise, decide not to do it. ·         If you can't agree on a situation that needs to be decided on, think only about the interest and well-being of the child. Disagreements between non-romantic parents are often the result of differences between the adults; the actual decision should be made with the child's best interests in mind.Your Child Says Co-Parent Is Talking Badly About YouWhen children hear one parent talk badly about the other, they become worried and sad. These are negative feelings a child should not have, so it's best to stop the bad-mouthing immediately.They Break Agreements OftenIf you have a co-parenting plan or rules set in place for when your child is with his other parent and that parent doesn't follow them, the situation needs to be addressed. They Neglect the ChildIf your parenting partner hasn't been around to see your child or has decided to stop being a parent, you can't force him to interact with your child. Instead, you need to meet with him to discuss what he would like his role to be as a joint parent. They Ignore Your Calls and TextsIf your kids are young, your only line of communication with them is through their other parent during visits. If the kids have their own phones, it may be easier to keep in touch when they're not with you.·         Talk to your ex to determine their motivation and be honest with yourself about whether your calls and texts are too much.·         Respect the other person's time as you'd have them respect yours.·         Create a communication agreement with boundaries ·         Give kids the chance to dictate how much communication Social Media SharingWhen you're both using social media to share information about your lives, it can create jealousy or raise questions about parenting skills and practices.  Help for Common Co-Parenting ProblemsIn most cases, discussing the situation with the co-parent is the best route. In stressful or difficult situations, you may want to consider seeking the professional help of a counselor or mediator. Whether the two of you work things out on your own or with the help of a professional, having an open mind and being flexible will yield the best results when problem solving.
1.  Reassure, Legitimize and Validate your childrens feelings“No matter their ages, explain (to your children) why you’re dating and that no one will ever replace the other parent,” says Dr. Terri Orbuch, professor at Oakland University, author and family therapist. “Tell them they are your first priority and you’ll always be there for them, no matter who you’re dating.”  If kids are resistant or negative, don’t get defensive. Acknowledge feelings, and give extra hugs.2. No revolving doors of men/womenIn my 20's & 30's, I did not do such a great job of not introducing my oldest daughter to various men I was dating but I wished I had.  It is best to wait until you have established a long time relationship with someone new before introducing your kids to him/her.  Surprisingly, younger kids are “more resilient,” says Dr. Orbuch. For stability and trust, don’t march a bunch of dates before your kids – and if you do, understand that tweens, teens and adolescents are likely to take break-ups harder than little ones.3. Understand that every kid is differentAll children are different when it comes to meeting someone new and considering a childs temperament and developmental age are very important when introducing them to someone new.  You should try and always us the concept of friends.4. Keep it Fun & NeutralFirst, second, even third meetings of a “significant other” and your respective kids should occur in neutral, fun locations – Water Parks, Chuck E. Cheese, parks, Putt-putt golf or movies, any place that doesn't add pressure.5. Reassess having a romantic sleepoverDepending on the age of the children you may want to really think about having a romantic sleepover.Especially with teens, while they hear what you say, they are more likely to do what you do, says Dr. Orbuch. Both agree that the significant-other-sleepover is a values call – and both hesitate to give the green light from a clinical perspective before there’s a ring on your finger.“Adolescents are watching and they’re going to model you. Kids do what parents do,” Dr. Orbuch says. Reserve sleepovers for nights when the kids stay with the other parent.6.  Discuss with your co-parent before introducing new "friend"7. No step-discipline, please“In our houses, parents take the main role; steps (don’t) execute punishments,” says Buscemi, the Rochester Hills author of I Do, Part Two: How to Survive Divorce, Co-Parent Your Kids and Blend Your Families Without Losing Your Mind.8. Encourage the other parent relationship“Whether the divorce was good or bad, whether there’s still feelings of resentment or bitterness, be kind to each other,” says Buscemi. “Don’t throw a new love in your ex’s face. Keep respect for your kid in mind.  Research shows that “it’s the exception that parents remarry,” says Dr. Orbuch. “The most difficult thing for kids to understand is they don’t have control over their parents’ relationship.”9.  Remarriage is a good thingIt’s another adult in the house, another person to love your children, an example of a healthy loving relationship. “If you’re happy and balanced, you’re going to be a better role model,” says Dr. Orbuch.Even when it comes to the wedding, let kids have a voice. Choosing desserts or clothing or the order in which they’ll walk down the aisle (by age!) allows kids to take ownership of this new marriage and feel like they have a place in it.  
Choosing to Forgive your ExThe Book of Forgiving by Desmond and Mpho Tutu.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes:"Without forgiveness, we remain tethered to the person who harmed us. We are bound with chains of bitterness, tied together, trapped. Until we can forgive the person who harmed us, that person will hold the keys to our happiness; that person will be our jailor. When we forgive the person who harmed us, we take back control of our own fate and our feelings. We become our own liberators. We don’t forgive to help the other person. We don’t forgive for others. We forgive for ourselves. Forgiveness, in other words, is the best form of self-interest. This is true both spiritually and scientifically."Tutu says, “To forgive is also to release yourself from whatever trauma and hardship you have experienced and reclaim your life as your own.”  Eight Keys to Forgiveness (by Robert Enright)This essay has been adapted from 8 Keys to Forgiveness (W. W. Norton & Company, 2015)Below is an outline of the basic steps involved in following a path of forgiveness, adapted from  8 Keys to Forgiveness. 1. Know what forgiveness is and why it mattersForgiveness is about goodness, about extending mercy to those who’ve harmed us, even if they don’t “deserve” it.  Forgiveness is a process with many steps.2. Become “forgivingly fit”To practice forgiveness, it helps if you have worked on positively changing your inner world by learning to be what I call “forgivingly fit.”  3. Address your inner painIt’s important to figure out who has hurt you and how. This may seem obvious; but not every action that causes you suffering is unjust. For example, you don’t need to forgive your child or your spouse for being imperfect, even if their imperfections are inconvenient for you.   4. Develop a forgiving mind through empathyScientists have studied what happens in the brain when we think about forgiving and have discovered that, when people successfully imagine forgiving someone , they show increased activity in the neural circuits responsible for empathy. 5. Find meaning in your sufferingWhen we suffer a great deal, it is important that we find meaning in what we have endured. Without seeing meaning, a person can lose a sense of purpose, which can lead to hopelessness and a despairing conclusion that there is no meaning to life itself. 6. When forgiveness is hard, call upon other strengthsForgiveness is always hard when we are dealing with deep injustices from others. I have known people who refuse to use the word forgiveness because it just makes them so angry. 7. Forgive yourselfMost of us tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on others and we struggle to love ourselves. If you are not feeling lovable because of actions you’ve taken, you may need to work on self-forgiveness Soften your heart toward yourself.8. Develop a forgiving heartWhen we overcome suffering, we gain a more mature understanding of what it means to be humble, courageous, and loving in the world.  If you shed bitterness and put love in its place, and then repeat this with many, many other people, you become freed to love more widely and deeply. 
Creating Healthy Boundaries in Co-ParentingWhat are boundaries?A quick summary of the boundaries described by Therapist Aid:Intellectual: Having respect for one another's thoughts and ideas.Emotional: Having respect for one another's feelings.Sexual: Having respect for the limitations and desires between sexual partners.Material: Having respect for one another's material possessions.Time: Having respect for one another's use of timeHow you determine your boundaries?When you feel disrespected, offended, or just plain uncomfortable with the other person's actions, it may be because they have crossed a boundary for you.  No one can understand your boundaries unless you communicate them.  A detailed parenting plan Keep your communications only on the children Avoid posting issues on social mediaDon't put your children in the middleTreat it like a business (boss).  It helps many co-parents to think of the endeavor, like a business relationship.Other boundaries co-parents, like Michelle from Confessions of Parenting, find helpful for maintaining a successful co-parenting relationship include:Never discussing any co-parenting issues during pick-up and drop-off times.Let your co-parent know about school functions, extracurricular activities, and special events that involve your children.It is okay to have separate activities with your kids–different birthday parties or celebrations of holidays are fine and can help minimize potentially tense situations.Do I have the right to know what my child is doing while they are visiting their other parent?  The reality is that your ex or co-parent isn’t required to tell you anything about what he or she and the children do unless the court order or visitation agreement specifically requires it.Set Reasonable Co-Parenting Rules First, try communicating with your ex about your concerns. You can’t always believe everything your children tell you.  Send email/text (not in person, if things are too emotional)Setting Boundaries with a High Conflict Co-ParentEnding a relationship with a partner who is prone to conflict can be challenging on many levels. If you have children, one of the most significant difficulties will be figuring out how to build a working relationship as co-parents.  Commit to the Parenting PlanIn a high conflict co-parenting situation, agreeing on a parenting plan will take a good deal of effort. Consider Parallel Parenting When your co-parent isn't willing to cooperate, and communication is difficult, parallel parenting may be an excellent approach to take. Parallel parenting is co-parenting but with added boundaries. One of these boundaries will be to disconnect from your co-parent on a certain level by not communicating directly with each other.  In parallel parenting, you may find that you implement a rather specific parenting plan.Tools for Parallel Parenting CommunicationKeep Your Personal Life Private You must set some emotional boundaries to protect yourself from getting hurt.  One way to keep your emotions in check when it comes to your co-parent is to keep your personal life to yourself. Watch Out For PitfallsAs you do what you can to set boundaries between your co-parent and your personal life, you should also do the same when it comes to the other parent and their life.Talk to SomeoneGetting through a divorce or separation with a high conflict partner isn't something you can easily do on your own. 
Parenting Your Adult ChildrenYour diaper-changing, school hustle & bustle and soccer driving days are over. Whether you feel relieved or conflicted about this change, it’s time to embrace your adult child’s independence and enjoy a new phase of parenthood; there are different ways for parenting adult children. Here are some ways to grow a healthy relationship with your adult children.1.  Respect your differences. 2. Share your insight and wisdom (no critizcing). 3. Set and keep boundaries with adult children.  4. Do things you love together. 5. Make room for their significant others. 6. Be more of a consultant, not a Manager7. Allow space for your children to talk with you, be a sounding board.8. Hold family meetings or "get togethers"
Grateful Living

Grateful Living


 In our ever changing lives, it is important that we practice grateful living.  What does it mean to practice grateful living?  Grateful living is active.  It asks us to step into our lives and participate and to cultivate all the possibilities that live on the other side of our busyness.  Sunday morning I woke up with feelings of gratitude. Which leads me to my subject for this week and what does it mean to practice grateful living.Step one – Stop – by stopping and listening you cultivate a presence of being awareStep Two – Look – Look for ways to be gratefulStep Three – Go – Going for what is possibleSTEP ONE – Stop – by stopping and listening you cultivate a presence of being aware.Being Present opens us to vulnerability and with vulnerability comes messiness but magical, tumultuous, yet tender, and a serious sacredness to us.  Being present allows our eyes and hearts to be open to life.  Being fully present can make life’s experiences of belonging as well as isolation, beauty and heartbreak, it will usher us into an awareness of the preciousness of life and will lay a foundation for our capacity of gratefulness.STEP TWO - Look - Look for ways to be gratefulHaving perspective allows us to be fully present in our experience and lets us see something from a “birds eye” view. In having perspective we can have the direct experience and also be gaining insight about that experience as the exact same time. This is called “perspective-taking” which allows us to experience compassion, empathy and deep consideration for ourselves and others. This is a key building block for connection, intimatcy and grateful living.An important reason to practice cultivating perspective is that it can help wake us up and keep us awake to the gifts in our lives without needing an actual "wake up call” experience.  “It was a wake-up-call” happenings are often those wherein we lose – or almost lose something we deeply treasure but can take for granted: health, home, money, job, family, friends etc. We also know it best not to need them in order to be/stay awake to what we truly love. Better to remember to appreciate it all now.   Grateful living practice means practicing gratitude even when, redirecting our thoughts in when life experiences hit us.  We can ask ourselves, what perspective would help me feel grateful now? Or What perspective will help me open a sense of opportunity for me?STEP THREE – Go- going for what is possibleWhen we are present to life – with perspective – and aware of the opportunities around us, then we are called to act. Then it is time to go. Time to generate a new or renewed experience. Time to cultivate possibility. Time to make a change.With perspective and possibility, our experiences of "not enough" can shift to "more than enough", and we realize that we do not need more, different, or better in order to lead our lives fully, gratefully, and generously. This shift makes more of life available to us. We become more aware of the vast resources and possibilities life is offering us in every moment. Seeing what is possible allows us to create and act in ways that reinforce having a world for which we, and others, can feel truly grateful. The magic is in the fact that the more that we act with intention, showing gratitude, the more grateful we all can become.
In this weeks episode we talk about the START method that the organization We Start Now has provided on their website and on their instagram  Below is their "Rules of Thumb" method and START method that have helped hundreds of families navigate social media standards and norms.S - START WITH YOURSELFModel healthy tech use for your kids. When studies show the average person checks a smartphone 80 times per day, we need to think about what we are modeling for our kids.  Of course, we will never be perfect...but an honest look at our own digital habits is a great first step toward building empathy, trust, and digital health as a family .T - TURN IN ZONESCreate device free rhythms and spaces. Establish device-free zones throughout your daily routine—a time to recharge and reconnect with one another.  A great place to start is mealtimes and bedtimes—keep phones out of sight when you are eating and have kids charge their devices outside of their bedrooms at night.  The benefits are powerful, and can create lifelong habits that foster your child’s mental health and digital well-being. A - ACCOUNTABILITYApply filters + settings + openness. While there is no filtering or parental control product that is 100% foolproof, our kids deserve the highest level filters we can provide. These are only safety nets; the first line of defense should be open relationships with trusted adults who can help children navigate the dangers they run into online. Accidents are bound to happen, and when they do, adults should be prepared to remain calm so kids know we are safe harbor.R - RIDE. PRACTICE. DRIVE.Use a driver’s ed approach to tech training. Before you hand your kids the keys to a car, you prepare them to navigate risky situations and road hazards.  They spend many years shadowing you in the backseat, followed by driving with a learner’s permit—with  you logging hours by their side to equip them with the needed skills.  Just like a car, tech comes with great responsibility—and requires an intentional training process. T - TIME WELL SPENTConnect online & offline. Keep your eye on what matters most—the life right in front of you.  Be intentional about deepening connections with people in your family and community—both online and offline.  Show your kids how to be captivated by life—not screens.  Teach them to ask this simple question:  at the end of my life, what will I say was time well spent?RESOURCES They have a Social Media Playbook which is can be a starter for families struggling keep social media in the proper place with their children. 2020 Annual Report on Children’s Digital Habits The complete guide to Chromebook parental controls Video Game Decision Tree
 1).  Share vacation plans as soon as possible – don’t wait until the last minute to discuss with your co-parent what your plans are for the summer.  Summers aren’t always predictable especially if you have multiple kids and birthdays, sports schedules, reunions etc. These various schedules will require both parents participating.  It is so important for us to work together and having conversations in advance or even setting up a dinner/lunch or coffee time to specifically discuss summer plans is so important to having a great summer.   2).  Get your childrens input for their summer plans – children do better when they have a routine and structure. Make sure their needs and interested are being considered during vacation planning stages.  If they are old enough, talk with them about they want to spend their time.  You may find out the kids want to stay in town and play soccer instead of going out of town on vacation.  Giving children a voice about what they do will relieve pressure of one parent having to explain to the other parent why their child does not want to do certain things this year on summer break.  It is also important to make sure that the kids have time to be kids.   Don’t have everything scheduled so much that there isn’t time for a KID to be just BE. 3).  Have communication options available while you are out of town – If you are planning an out of town vacation this summer and your children will be away from their parent, it doesn’t mean that your child shouldn’t be able to speak to their other parent.   Additionally don’t take it personal if your child misses the other parent.  It is natural for your child to miss the other parent, so you shouldn’t feel hurt if they miss the other parent.  Your understanding way can help ease the worries by planning fun activities but also planning plenty of time to talk to or FT the other parent. 4).  Avoid “being in competition with the other co-parent – do not try and one-up your co-parent with who has the better vacation. This will only create angry and resentment between you and your co-parent and could create guilt with the child.  Ultimately children just want to spend time with their parents and don’t really care about a fancy vacation.  The best summer memories are not created by money or material objects but by quality time.  5). Be Flexible – Support your child’s relationship with the other co-parent.  If you are traveling out of town, make sure the other co-parent has all contact and travel information.  Make sure if you child is going away with the other co-parent, that they have doc info, sign any travel docs needed etc.  If your co-parent doesn’t see your children regularly, make sure they know your children(s) capabilities regarding hiking, swimming, allergies etc.  You ultimately want them to have a safe, happy and successful time together.  6). Make other plans/relax -  for all my single moms you may not be able to afford a nice vacation, plan a trip to the zoo, art class, dance class, a day trip exploring local parks, a day for a water park, local public pool.  Take a surprise day off work to plan a picnic.  Create memories and don’t feel guilt about what you can do for your children.  Relax and stop pressuring yourself to creat the perfect summer for your child.  You are a parent, so plan a picnic outside, ice cream cones and fun running thru a sprinkler.   7).  Think of yourself – If you are going to have long periods this summer without the children, plan some adult fun while your child is away.  Explore new places, read some books, meet people and expand your own interest. Remember that your co-parent loves the children just like you do and will act in their best interest.
 With the upcoming mothers day and birth mother day, I was thinking of how complex motherhood can be and how for me personally my relationship with my mother is/was so complicated.  It is no surprise that many of us have a complicated range of feelings – gratitude, sadness, grief, joy and anger.As a mother you are either blamed, glamorized or judged critically by your children, family members or the outside world.  This judgment leaves little room for the true complexity of our mother as well as ourselves as mothers.The complexity of the mother/child relationship leaves many of us feeling shame or guilt for not meeting the ideals of mothers and motherhood.Especially during this year we see all the social media and TV’s media messages regarding the perfect version of Mothers Day.  The images show mothers and children and especially daughters as best friends, being close and celebrating togetherness.  For many of us, this is not what we experience or did experience with our own mothers.  These images can bring up a lot of feelings as we see the differences between what is portrayed on social media etc and what we have experienced or did experience in our childhood.  It seems as though the cultural message is that “if you don’t have this type of relationship with your mother, there is something wrong with you”.Mother is a verb, as stated by Gloria Steinem, "but when mother is a verb—as in to mother, to be mothered—then the best of human possibilities come into our imaginations.To mother is to care about the welfare of another person as much as one’s own.To mother depends on empathy and thoughtfulness, noticing and caring.To mother is the only paradigm in which the strong and the weak are perfectly matched in mutual interest.Besides, one may be forced to be a mother, but one cannot be forced to mother"To mother helps you change your internal definition of mother so that you stop looking for a perfect mother and so you will be begin to identify your mother as anyone who offers care.You are mothering and being mothered if you are offered acceptance, sustenance, direction or instruction, and empowering.  There is no perfect way but if you can provide these things than you are the essence of a mother.
1) Be polite & civilIt's important to remove the emotion when communicating with your co-parent, especially in the beginning when your raw emotions are so new. Set new boundaries and communicate in the same way you want to be communicated with.2) Keep Communication short & sweetThis relationship between you is in the past. Communication should always be about your children and their needs.  Simple responses are the best especially in the beginning.3) No fighting with the kids presentFocus on making your kids happy.  Ongoing conflict between co-parents is very stressful to the children. 4) Don't put your children in the middleDon't use your child as a messenger. Always communicate directly with your co-parent, even when.... 5) Communicate regularlyDuring this difficult time, kids really need to know that you are both actively involved in their lives. Setup weekly or bi-weekly meetings (dinner, or meet at the park etc)6) Stay on topicClear communication between you and your co-parent partner means it's that it is much less likely that information gets lost in translation. It helps to stay on topic and keep the communication brief and to-the-point. Commit to communicating a few times a week.7) Concentrate on now and the futureAll the problems that led to your separation are not relevant to your co-parenting relationship. You need to leave them in the past where they belong. Your only concern from now on should be in relation to your children. And how you are going to raise them and support them together as they grow up.8) Listen to hear, not to respondOften we hear what we want to hear or what we expect to hear.  Take the time to try and understand their point of view. Listening is key to successful communication.9) Look for compromise and always be flexibleThere will be undoubtly situations when you will disagree with your co-parent, find a way to communicate that allows you both to work together to find a resolution. Try to be as flexible as possible without comprising your boudaries. If your co-parent's birthday is during your parenting time and they want to celebrate with the children, be kind and say yes. Don't make your kids miss out on a special occasion or having fun with the other parent out of spite. Children end up being the biggest losers in this scenario. Also, when you make a request next time, your co-parent is much more likely to say yes.There will be many challenges with co-parenting partner throughout the years.  Work to put your children first and always act in their best interests. If you use these communication tools you can build a strong co-parenting relationship and your children will be much happier without having to choose sides. 
Strategies to Discipline with your children while Co-Parenting:Talk about the consequences prior to carrying out the discipline:If a discipline issue comes up on a transition day or should be carried out during the other parent's time, you can both agree to talk to one another before the consequence is given.  You can make the decision together.Let the consequence wait:You can agree not to give an immedicate consequence.  Sometimes the not knowing part is the worse than the actual punishment.Form a united front:In order to present this united front, a decision needs to be made early regarding whether you can work together and form a united front with respect to shared boundaries and disciplinary guidelines for your child.  If you are at the beginning of your co-parenting journey, mediation or a session with a family therapist with your ex-partner can be helpful to discuss topics such as how to manage differences in disciplinary approaches, even when you disagree with the disciplinary actions or decisions you are backing up!The aim is to come out of this session with some ground rules for you and your ex-partner when it comes to discipline.  These may include agreed upon acceptable consequences, how you want to communicate about your child’s behavior  and the expectations that you can both honor when your children are with you. This shows your children that when it comes to parenting, you are working together and nothing has changed.Golden Rules to Discipline:Never criticize the other co-parentSet aside your own emotions about your ex and do what is in the best interest of the childRespectful co-parentingSuccessful co-parenting where discipline is concerned requires respect for your co-parent, no matter what has happened prior.  If nothing else, it is about remembering that the other co-parent is important to your child. When we have someone that we dislike, it is easy to reject or criticize the way in which they deal with things. The danger is that when your the other parent makes a decision around discipline, you reject it without a thought.  Understanding that not everyone has an easy co-parent partner and if the other parent won’t continue the discipline you have laid out, you can either wait to exercise the discipline or have a discussion with the other parent about what discipline they think would be effective.Trust your instincts and do the best you can. Ultimately, the more consistent you can be in your home and your ex can be in theirs, the more secure your children will feel.  If you and the other parent can work together to teach good values to your children  and they learn right from wrong, there are no better co – parents than that.
In this weeks’ episode, I interview Fiona Kong, creator of Home Sweet Homes; A Journal and Planner for co-parents & child.Fiona Kong is a single mom of a 4-year-old boy. She is a former analyst, turned entrepreneur after finding a lack of resources and tools available to support children after a separation or divorce. During the pandemic, she created Home Sweet Homes: A journal & planner for co-parents & child.  She is passionate about mental health advocacy, sustainable living and is a serial meditator. Originally from Rockville, MD she currently lives in Los Angeles, CA. What is so amazing about her newly created journal is that it is child-led and it is something that the co-parents can do individually and with their child.  Fiona is warm, thoughtful and very intuitive.  I loved my interview with you and I hope that you find her as engaging as I do and I hope you will join me in buying her journal.  You can find her on Instagram @homesweethomes.coparenting
Interview with Grace Beason

Interview with Grace Beason


Check out my interview with Grace Beason @iamgracebeason .In our interview she shares her story of growing in a “co-parent household” before we all knew about co-parenting.  Grace gives us great advice about how communication with our “children” is so important.   She is inspiring, funny and very relatable.  Grace is a mindset and empowerment coach.  She provides women with empowerment tools and supports them to feel a greater sense of calm.  You can check our her website at www.gracebeasoncoaching.comIn addition, she is the host of her podcast “Because Why Not?”.  Her podcast is funny and applicable and provides spiritual tools that we all can use (available wherever you download your podcast).  I hope you will take the time to listen.Grace and her husband have created @thelushandlady where they “serve up Alcohol Free beverage options for drinkers and non drinkers alike”.  Their videos are awesome!  It is informative, funny and very entertaining.   
Brene Brown’s 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living are as follows:1.   Cultivating Authenticity and Letting Go of What Other People Think2.   Cultivating Self-Compassion and Letting Go of Perfectionism3.   Cultivating Your Resilient Spirit, Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness4.   Cultivating Gratitude and Joy, Letting go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark5.   Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith, Letting Go of the Need for Certainty6.   Cultivating Creativity and Letting Go of Comparison7.   Cultivating Play and Rest, Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth8.   Cultivating Calm and Stillness and Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle9.   Cultivating Meaningful Work, Letting Go of Self-Doubt and Supposed-To10.    Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance. And Letting Go of Cool and Always in Control
In this episode you will hear our conversation with Jessica (Bonus Mom) and Naomi (Bio Mom).  Jessica and Naomi have been a part of each others life for over 20 years.We talk about their background and how they first met, how their dynamics have changed over the years.  We will hear about their conflicts regarding custody, visitation and money.They will give us insightful and helpful advice for all of us to become better mothers to our children.
Religion & Co-Parenting; Striking a Balance1.    Religious traditions versus Indoctrination     This is the difference between sharing your faith with your child and having them participate in certain religious rites of passage (e.g., baptism, confirmation, bar mitzvah). Parents should be allowed to talk to their children about their faith and to share aspects of it with them, but participating in organized rituals should require the consent of both parents unless one parent has sole decision-making power.  The end point is morality, not religion.  Religion provides a framework for morality but one can be religious without being moral and vice-versa.  Ultimately, we should care about if we raise moral children and not necessarily religious children. 2. Morals & Core ValuesWe should ask ourselves why sharing our religion with our children matters.  We should do serious soul searching and be honest with ourselves and make sure we are not making this area into a battleground due to anger with your ex-spouse.  Instead we should consider the values of our religion and what we hope our child(ren) learns from our faith. This personal exploration will help us when we do choose to talk with our co-parent about  faith.3. Holidays & TraditionsWhat are the holidays, rituals, and traditions you want your child to experience?  How do you imagine those experiences would be for your co-parent, and what religious traditions do you imagine he or she wants to share? Try to imagine how those holidays and traditions might co-exist.  The ability to co-parent with different religions will make your child feel less pressure and therefore be happier.4. Above all respectAs with all areas of co-parenting, operating from a place of respect establishes a good foundation and models how to sort through conflict constructively. Try to genuinely understand your co-parent’s point of view. Try to share your point of view without being defensive or belittling the other religion. If you need help, access a divorce coach or therapist.When your child grows up, he will ultimately decide if and how to incorporate religion and spirituality into his life. If you have modeled the values of your religion (love, kindness, compassion), you will have given your child an enormous gift. You can appreciate a religion without subscribing to it. There’s a beauty to the ritual, music and message of any faith. There is no need to critique it; it can just be accepted for what it is and let the kids take from it what they may.  There’s no value in saying anything disparaging about a faith or its practitioners. This is never a good idea; religious or not.I want my children to hear my beliefs.   What I want for my children are to have morality, respect and open-mindedness. If they grow to become religious, I want them to come to their decision freely.How conflict be avoided?There are healthy ways to pass your values and beliefs onto your children without offending your partner.  Rather than focusing on what can come from not following your religion (punishment), focus on the reason you chose to follow the religion. If you do this correctly you children will be able to choose for themselves what will work best. Try to find similarities among your religions. Do not pollute the relationship you have with your child or your partner over your religion.  Hold strong in what you believe, but this belief should not be aggressively imposed on others. Look for the positives/Never point out the negatives.
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