If you’re like most single moms in the “raising kids department,” you need reminders of how to co-parent in such a way that your children succeed as an adult. My two children are grown now with babies of their own. After speaking to a group of single parents recently, I was reminded afresh of the struggles in passing the children back and forth to two different households and the wear and tear it can be on your soul.
So I crafted a simple A-Z guide in how to keep your sanity while getting through this season. It’s not easy following my Co-Parenting Alphabet but in the long run, it’s worth it. Don’t hesitate to grab a paper and pen before you assess these ideas. Which ones would benefit your co-parenting needs?
A = Keep calm and ACCEPT what is. When we fight against what can’t be changed, we fuel aggravation.
B = Keep it BUSINESS LIKE (if necessary). If the goal of friendship is not possible, strive for effective communication. Consider the co-parent a business partner. It wards off emotional flare-ups.
C = Keep a CALENDAR. When everyone’s on the same page, it relieves miscommunication. Check out Outlook and Google Calendar for assistance.
D = Keep DUCK TAPE. Never talk negatively about the co-parent. Every child has an infra- structure that wants to love both parents.
E = Keep to EMAILS. It prevents the parent from chasing the rabbits of the past or unloading “digs” with their tone of voice. Be brief, stay to the point, focus on the child.
F = Keep FEELINGS in a compartment separate from behavior. Never vent to the kids. Don’t expose them to conflict because of personal issues. It teaches them to be emotionally chaotic.
G = Keep the GOLDEN Rule. No name calling. No abusive words. No forcing kids to choose sides. Remember the quote, “What would Jesus do?” Conduct yourself with emotional integrity.
H = Keep HEALTHY. Take care of yourself. An anemic you helps no one. Release endorphins by exercising. Plan me time. Stay away from toxic relationships.
I = Keep it KEEN (means characterized by precision). Sit down with the co-parent and set aside differences. Effective communication is an unselfish parental choice.
J = Keep out the JELLYFISH. It stings parenting efforts when parents don’t have similar ground rules. Work towards unity concerning bedtime, electronics, discipline and respect for others.
K = Keep it KID like. Let children be children. Don’t burden them with adult issues. It endorses insecurity, causing doubt in their own strengths.
L = Keep LOVE number one. God rewards His definition of affection: Love doesn’t seek its own. Love looks for the best. Love trusts God. Love never gives up.
M = Keep the word MODEL in mind. The kids are watching. They learn more by what we do than what we say. We can’t control the other parent but we can control ourselves.
N = Keep the word NEVER in mind. Never use the kids as messengers. Never assume they’re your counselor. Never make the household a pressure cooker.
O = Keep OPTIMISTIC. Don’t focus on the losses but focus on what’s left. Train yourself to notice the good moments. Log into instances when you feel connected to the children.
P = Keep to the PRESENT. When our mind drifts to the past, we block out current happy moments with the kids. Step into their shoes. Be there emotionally. It doesn’t happen casually but intentionally.
Q = Keep QUARRELING at bay. Don’t discuss differences with your former spouse in front of the children. If you can’t agree, find help through a third party or mediator.
R = Keep it REAL. Accept the reality that co-parenting is not natural. It lets us know that nothing’s wrong with us. We’re simply living within the perimeters called consequences.
S = Keep it SMART. Don’t convert guilt into overindulgence. Research proves that succumbing to our kids every whim teaches them manipulation and leads to an entitlement mindset.
T = Keep your TRANSITIONS peaceful. After the kids return from being with the other parent, give them space to reset their emotional clocks. Play soft music or cook the same meal. Kids find comfort in routine.
U = Keep it UP. Regardless of the behavior of the other parent, don’t give in to manipulations for control. Continue doing your best. Make your season of parenting extraordinary.
V = Keep it VERSATILE (means capable of adapting from one ease to another). Flexibility with the co-parent is crucial. Keep pride and stubbornness out of the formula. Just let it go and move forward.
W = Keep a WORKING relationship. If you can’t provide a united front, then find godly counsel. Explore the beliefs that drive your negative emotions – rise above them.
X = Keep it “X-cellent.” Rehearse the top seven needs of children: acceptance, freedom from guilt, structure, sense of family, safety, purpose, and genuine affection.
Y = Keep the YUCK out. When the child speaks poorly of the co-parent (though it might feel great to you), don’t encourage it. Research shows that children later resent the parent that cheers them on.
Z = Keep overflowing with God’s ZEST. He is the Father to the fatherless. And above all, remember: If God is the head of your household, how can it be broken?
YOU CAN DO IT! God is stronger than your gravest sorrow and wiser than your greatest woe.
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.