Are you sharing custody of the kiddos? How’s it working? Rarely do I hear someone say, “It’s going fantastic. I LOVE this!” Any why is that? Because it doesn’t feel natural for mommy and daddy to live in two households.
But take heart. Kids CAN emerge as healthy adults having been raised under two roofs. As a mom, you can’t control what’s happening in the other home, but you can monitor your own. After all, you’re the only adult in the house, so you get to pick (and that’s a good thing, that is, if you choose wisely.)
Have you nailed it down? Do you have your own personal DO’s and DON’Ts in writing? Are these on your list?
- DO encourage the kids to talk about their feelings. None of us likes bottled-up emotions. So provide a safe environment for the kids to share. When they do, ZIP IT! What they say might infuriate you, but be quiet. Your purpose in this discipline is to get them to spill, dump and unload – yet not disrespectfully. And at all times remember: Anger is to be talked about, not acted out.
- DO give your child permission to love the other parent. Whether you want to hear this or not, all children want to have the freedom to love both parents. Many moms make the mistake of trying to influence their kids negatively– Well, have you noticed he’s always late picking you up? Comments like this hurt only you. Your number one objective – “What’s best for my kids?”
- DO “give in” occasionally. I’ve seen moms refuse to bend because it was a way of punishing the other parent. They’d say, “No, I won’t change weekends. Your dad can rearrange his ‘precious little’ schedule.” When bitterness leaks, it damages your kids. Be flexible. Be reasonable. You communicate Christian love far better through being sensitive than being obstinate.
- DON’T talk bad about the kids’ father. Nothing boomerangs back to you in a negative way more than putting down their dad. Inside each child is an infrastructure that wants to love both parents. Do you really want them healthy? Then give them that gift. Let them decide at what level they choose to love their father.
- DON’T use your children as spies. When I was a single mom, I had a single mother friend. My children played at her house. She often used her kids as spies in checking up on her former spouse. Inevitably when she did this in front of my daughter, Sara would come home with a tummy ache. It’s a lose-lose for everyone.
- DON’T see your children as pigeons. These little birds carry messages back and forth. It’s easy to ask questions of the kids in order to find out what’s happening over “there.” They don’t want to be cross-examined. My daughter is a mom now and she still remembers times when my friend subjected her to this.
I must admit. Reading about successful co-parenting can pain your heart. You’d rather be planning a beach vacation with all expenses paid. Amen? However, just keep in mind: what you’re doing now matters for the duration of your kids’ lives.
From this point forward, live without regrets.
About Pam Kanaly
Aloha! I’m Pam Kanaly, President and co-founder of Arise Ministries. But actually, I think Arise found me wanting to bless single moms years ago. Ministry was never on my mind as a kid. All I wanted to be was a hula dancer. So Mother enrolled me in the tiny tots’ class. Guess God knew I’d have two grandbabies born in Hawaii. I love the great outdoors. You might even find me spending time with my husband grizzly bear watching or camping. In fact, it was on a turkey hunt that God gave me the name Arise Ministries in 2002. I suppose it’s a good thing that I majored in Grammar in college since I love to write words of encouragement to single moms.