You’re separating and/or getting divorced. Your whole life is about change. You’re thinking ahead. What will my life look like with my children moving back and forth between two homes? What do I need to think about, consider, prepare for? How do others do this? What are the pitfalls? I just want some way to get perspective and balance. Or….
You’ve finished shooting the rapids— you’re officially divorced/separated. You have boxes packed or unpacked; you have documents that describe your financial launch pad anda parenting plan to guide life with your children. You have a heart that is still mending whether from heartbreak or release from a marriage/relationship that ended, broke, couldn’t work. You’re beginning a new life, with new rules, a new sense of home. You’re forging a new co-parenting relationship with an old spouse/partner, armed with your commitment to do whatever is in the kids’ best interest.
“What exactly does that mean?” you ask. How on earth do I navigate all the feelings, the inconvenience, uncertainty, awkwardness? How do I put my best foot forward after months of struggling to drag one foot behind the other? I knew what it meant to be a good parent when we all lived together, but how do I use those skills as a co-parent now that everything’s different? This book helps answer your most pressing questions, gives you a roadmap and provides tools for co-parenting post-divorce/separation.
WE WILL SHOW YOU WAYS TO:
- Successfully work through difficult feelings while forming your “business of co-parenting relationship.”
- Build a mutually respectful co-parenting relationship,
- Keep your children front and center while protecting them from adult conflict and concerns,
- Understand your children’s needs as they navigate the loss and change of divorce,
- Help your children build resilience and competence in the face of family change, and
- Implement strategies and protocols for day-to-day living in a two-home family that work!
Whatever the circumstances behind your new life as a co-parent, this book provides ideas, guidelines, and information to help you navigate the transition from one home to two for your children. Divorce may be the most common path, but certainly not the only path to a two-home family. There are parents who’ve had a child and have never lived together, parents who once lived together and now don’t, etc. You’re reading this book because you want to learn how to help your children grow up strong and resilient with roots in two homes — co-parenting even as life moves forward and relationships change. For your children, you two will always be their parents — part of their sense of family. We help answer questions about how to provide a safe, secure two-home family-life.
At the core, this book is about your children. The heart of the matter is helping children maintain or reclaim their carefree childhood in the wake of divorce/separation. When it comes to a child’s sense of family, what divorce breaks apart, solid co-parenting rebuilds. In order to co-parent, you’ll need to know how to take care of yourself, your emotions, and have the tools to build and maintain a respectful, cooperative co-parenting relationship.
As new parents, we all joked about our amazing bundle arriving without an operating manual.So we read parenting books and magazines; we did our best; we made loving mistakes, our kids grew. We sometimes learned the hard way: through experience. Co-parenting after divorce/separation throws another level of complexity into the already challenging job of raising kids. A whole set of new skills are needed under the best of circumstances. More often than not, we need serious guidance to successfully navigate awkward situations fraught with emotional landmines. We wrote this book because both of us understand how difficult, complicated, and uncertain the process of co-parenting can be. We also know about emotional landmines and how easy it is to make not-so-loving mistakes in the aftermath of a difficult divorce/separation.
What might have been loving mistakesin the past, after divorce/separation often take on the emotional tenor of our “unloving feelings” toward our children’s other parent…we call those not-so-loving mistakes.This guidebook helps prevent not-so-loving mistakes and recognizes that although every parent wants to do what’s best for their kids, they often have no idea what to do or how to accomplish it. With clear protocols, helpful tools, and a little support, parents can avoid the pain born of not knowing how to do better, and move right into providing a healthy, supportive, loving foundation for their kids through skillful co-parenting.
Our goal is to help parents develop confidence in their ability to create a positive, resilient family even with the challenges of living across two-homes and in the aftermath of a broken adult/spousal relationship.As a Divorce Coach and Child Specialist, we help parents build new foundations — as independent adults finding new footing, as co-parents, and as transformed families. We watch how children reflect confidence in their parents’ ability to establish a secure and loving sense of home and family through their day-to-day activities/relationships, and we listen for the freedom to just-be-kids-growing-up in how they speak about their family. We see more than our fair share of parental conflict, and children’s tears and anger as they struggle to make sense of loss and change. However, we also see parents’ unfolding courage, amazing growth as people and parents, and their love and commitment reflected in their kids’ stories. This was captured beautifully by a six year old girl when she responded to the query if both her parents had attended her recent ballet recital:
Turning hand on hip, looking as if an adult should understand something so very simple and true, she declared, “Weeelll, of course! We are still family, you know.”
This is our hope for your children: that they will experience confidence in your ability to sustain their sense of family even in the face of change, and that you will find the guidelines and tools that support YOU as you grow stronger and become a skillful co-parent. This book offers practical, hands-on ideas for creating your own sense of a two-home family. Some may work and some may not; you are the expert on your homelife. Our hope is that you focus on what can help — that you find power and hope in the possibilities suggested, even if more time is needed before you and your co-parent are ready to give them a try. We hope to guide you in discovering skills that build a positive, resilient, and hopeful view of the future for yourself and your transformed family.
Your “brain trust” through your separation/divorce process and beyond will likely include an attorney. Choose wisely. Hire someone who will represent your interests in preserving your child(ren’s) childhood. An attorney who believes in family and preserving the co-parenting relationship as much as possible. Consider learning more about Collaborative Divorce and collaboratively trained attorneys to find out if that option meets your needs and situation. Talk with mediators and divorce coaches who will help guide you. Divorce can be safe and civil — and we hope for you to have that experience. (For more, see the Appendix Choosing a Family Law Attorney.)
Let’s get started.
The Co-Parents’ Handbook summer 2014