7 Deadly Sins of Co-Parenting

Published today by The Huffington Post……..

Co-parenting with someone who you admittedly would rather not deal with can be challenging and exhausting. Avoid these seven deadly sins of co-parenting so that you can work through the conflict to successfully raise your children – together.

Wrath – This is a common feeling for one going through a divorce. Wrath is an uncontrolled feeling of hatred and anger that cannot be quenched. Because of wrath, many of the other deadly sins of co-parenting are committed. While most people going through it feel they are justified in their wrath, the only ones who really suffer are the kids. If you feel that you have uncontrolled anger, then seek help. It won’t just benefit you… it will benefit your children.

Greed – This is a sin of excess where you have the desire to possess more than you need. In co-parenting, this takes the form of trying to “win.” You may find yourself in court trying to get more custody or more child support, while putting your children through the contentious battle without thinking about what is best for them. As a co-parent, you must be willing to share the children and encourage their relationship with the other parent. If you try to keep the children from the other parent, then the kids will remember it as they mature and the plan will ultimately backfire on you.

Sloth – This rears its ugly head in the form of laziness or failure to do what one should. In co-parenting, this is most likely seen in the inability to follow the Court Order. There may be some things in the Order that you don’t really see as important, but as long as there are little things to argue about with your ex, then you can never be the best co-parents that you can be. You must understand that you will be held accountable, do what you agreed to do, and things can slowly improve.

Gluttony – This is a sin of selfishness. If you choose to put your needs above the needs of your children, then you are being gluttonous. A glutton in co-parenting would be a parent who continues to fight. He/she can’t get enough of the drama and attention, so the fighting continues long after the conflict should have passed. These are the people who want to keep the divorce high conflict even when they are fully capable of working things out.

Envy – It’s easy to feel envy after divorce. You may envy your ex being in a new relationship or you may envy the fun trips your ex takes with your kids. Envy is being discontent with what you have while wanting what someone else has. Dante defined envy in Purgatorio as “a desire to deprive men of theirs.” Envy is difficult because it can cause you to make irrational decisions and can lead to depression through dissatisfaction. You have to focus on being happy with what you have.

Pride – This is the deadliest sin of all because it is the source of all the others. If you believe that you are better than others and you fail to recognize what benefit others may bring to the situation, then you are being proud. Ideally, when you are married, you discuss things with your spouse and make decisions jointly. After a divorce, you must attempt to continue to make decisions jointly, but the dynamics of the relationship are much different now. Don’t let pride get in the way. It is in the best interests of your children for you to swallow your pride and admit that your ex may handle a situation better than you. If it will benefit your child, then admit your weakness in that role and let your ex take care of it.

Lust – You may think of lust in a sexual way, but for the purposes of co-parenting I am referring to an intense desire for anything – power, money, time, control. Lust for control can ruin a co-parenting relationship. Co-parenting requires that you become business partners in an effort to raise your children. Just like in a business relationship, you cannot have a successful partnership if you are both fighting for control. A successful co-parenting relationship will require compromise and communication.

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Facebook Fatigue Syndrome

“Keeping up with the Joneses” used to be a simple idiom. People would use the phrase to refer to the desire to accumulate material possessions. Social status was measured by how much one had or collected. Inability to “Keep up with the Joneses” would cause major dissatisfaction in the lives of those striving to have more and be more than their neighbors and friends.

It was simple back in those days because we didn’t have the internet or social media. We could only see a limited amount of friends daily, so our desire to “keep up” would be based on who we encountered regularly.

My how times have changed…

We now have Facebook where people can post pictures of their gorgeous beach homes with their perfect view of the sunset from the front porch overlooking the ocean. New status updates pop up every minute with friends sharing how happy they are in their job, with their marriage, or with their best friends. Profile pictures show gloriously happy, beautiful people enjoying life.

And you aren’t……

Their kids are more successful than yours. Their Mother’s Day present was more thoughtful than yours. Their husband loves them more than yours loves you. Their clothes fit better on their perfectly sculpted (“I work out more than you”) bodies. They spend more time on vacations than you and they do AMAZING things like go cave diving and drink fruity cocktails with sweat perfectly beaded up on the glass (while you are stuck in your office with no windows).

Our focus becomes on how much better their lives are than ours, which is just another complicated example of “Keeping up with the Joneses.” Depression sets in as you wonder what you are doing wrong and why you can’t have all the wonderful things that they have. I have actually been told by a friend that she had to take a break from Facebook because it was making her feel too bad about her own life.  She was suffering from what so many people suffer these days – Facebook Fatigue Syndrome.

“Keeping up with the Joneses” isn’t the same as it was many years ago… I think that now it is not a desire to have the material possessions of others as much as it is to have the same happiness that it APPEARS they have while looking through the lens of Facebook or Instagram.  Add into that Etsy & Pinterest and the envy is to possess the creativity of others.

People fail to realize that Facebook is just a simple way for someone to paint the picture of their life that they want others to see. It’s not necessarily reality. A lot of times it is obvious to me when a friend is trying too hard to stress to others how great his/her life is. Other times I may see a friend who posts an anniversary picture with her husband telling how lucky she is (when everyone knows he has been having an affair with a co-worker for the past two years and she has been fighting for her marriage). Sure, we see the big 51′ Jarrett Bay they just bought, but do we see the massive debt they accumulated just to get it or that the purchase of the boat has caused the couple to discuss divorce?  We see a friend our age who looks so amazingly beautiful in her pictures, but we don’t think about the amount of money she has spent at her plastic surgeon or what filters she used when she edited the photos.

Try to remember that you can’t take every post and picture on Facebook at face value. This realization that people view Facebook as some sort of “Stepford Wives” look at our friends has made me want to talk to my daughters about the importance of viewing themselves as individuals without comparing themselves to others. We want our children to grow up with a healthy self-esteem, but then we turn around and continually compare ourselves to others and focus on our own inadequacies.

If you have found that you suffer from Facebook Fatigue Syndrome, try to remember that someone may appear to live a life of perfection on the outside, but you don’t know anything about their internal struggles. As I have heard my entire life, if we take all of my problems and your problems and put them in a pile, I will quickly take my own back… Be thankful for what you have and focus on being the best that YOU can be.

This is my tough love for Tuesday… a little bit of positive thinking (albeit a tad harsh) to get your focus in the right place.

valerie

Perspective…

It always seems that God speaks to me pretty harshly when I am having a tough time emotionally.  He’s truly the father who basically says, “Seriously?  You have it so good.  You need to GET OVER YOURSELF!”

Last week in a nearby community a man approached a 14 year old boy on the greenway and then forced the boy into the woods and sexually assaulted him.  Our two boys are 14, so this hit very close to home.  It also forced some incredibly uncomfortable (but necessary) conversations with the boys.

And I give my boys a hard time for turning all the lights on in the house when they are home alone?

Yesterday, I learned about an old neighbor of mine whose 6 year old daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia two days ago.  She was admitted in the hospital yesterday and had a spinal tap (which thankfully had no Leukemia present) and had a port put into place today.  Her mother has been posting for the past three days on Caring Bridge and I am in awe over her calm grace.  I envision myself in the same situation like someone being ejected from a bar – screaming inaudibly while they carry me out kicking and scratching and clawing at the doorway.

Yet her child has cancer.

And I’m struggling with the annoying fact that my boys hit every beam and ceiling in my house with their dirty, nasty fingers.

CANCER.

Tonight I have also been inundated with prayer requests for a friend of a friend on Facebook whose fifteen year old son fell off a boat earlier today with friends and has not been found.  It’s dark.  The search is still on.  His parents have no answers.

And I’m upset that my son lost his library book?

MISSING.

Everything in life is about perspective.   I have always heard that if we get everyone to throw all of our problems into a pile, then we would want to grab our own problems back.  And that’s true!  We may THINK that we have it so bad, but then we realize that comparatively speaking, we don’t have it so bad after all….

I am praying for numerous people who are in need of prayers tonight… and it has made me realize more than every that I am so incredibly blessed.  It’s all about perspective.

My Mid-Years Resolutions

I’ve had an emotionally exhausting and extremely frustrating week.  I can’t help but think that I should have better control over my emotions.  While I’ve always had a little bit of “firecracker” in me, I have really become devastated this week about things that maybe I should have handled better.

As a result, these “spells” I have suffered from have made me want to do things to improve myself.  My hope is that if I know that I am doing the best that I can, then I won’t let other people’s feelings and actions affect me quite like I have been affected this week.

IF I AM THE BEST ME THAT I CAN BE, THEN THAT’S THE BEST I CAN DO.

Although most people make New Years’ resolutions, I have decided to make some Mid-Years’ resolutions.  Starting today, June 1st, I am going to work harder than ever to be the best Valerie that I can be.

1) I will be a better friend.

I have over 1300 friends on Facebook, but I can count on two hands the people who are my TRUE friends.  The rest seem to be “surface” friends.  I am going to decide which relationships I need to truly nurture and I am going to do everything in my power to be the best friend I can be to those people.  While I don’t really know what that will entail, I know that I will no longer waste time on people who don’t spend time on me and I will honor and value and spend time on those who are my true friends.

2) I will be a better daughter.

Again, not sure exactly how to do this, but I will do everything in my power to honor and respect both of my parents and my mother-in-laws.  I want them to know that I value their opinions and I will work hard to make sure they never feel that I am dismissing them in any way.

3) I will exercise regularly.

I don’t only want to be the best me I can be in my relationships, but I want to be in the best physical shape I can be.  As I approach 40 in a few short months, I want to be able to be confident that I am taking care of myself.  I want to be around to share as many years as possible with my handsome husband, so my goal is to exercise a little bit every day.  I even started the 30 day Ab Challenge!  Lord help me!

4) I will watch what I put in my stomach.

There is so much talk about how wheat/gluten is a poison in your body.  I have decided that I want to try to go gluten/wheat free for a couple of weeks and see how it feels.  It is worth a try! When you look at ingredients in processed foods, you can’t help but question what in the hell you are eating anyway.

5) I will be a better mother.

I have been yelling a lot lately.  A lot.  About stupid things.  I have always been a yeller, but lately it just feels like I fly off the handle about everything.  My goal for the rest of 2014 is to savor every moment.  It’s to recognize that they are kids and to LET THEM BE KIDS.  I won’t get mad if they are pushing me to get something they want, because that’s their job.  I won’t take it personally when they complain about our rules, because it would be unnatural for them NOT to complain about them.  I will hug them more, love them more, and enjoy them more… every single day.

6) I will be a better writer.

I LOVE to write.  It makes me a better person to get my thoughts on paper and to share those thoughts with others.  My writing is not only a ministry to other people going through similar things, but it is therapy for my own soul as I work through my thoughts and feelings.  My husband is very aware of this and whenever I am in a particularly difficult mood he will say, “Honey, let me take care of this… you need to go write.”  My goal is to make a topic calendar and to stick to it.  I will have a specific topic chosen for each day and when that day rolls around, then I will sit down and write.  I know how important schedules are in my life, so it would only make sense that I would plan out my writing like I plan out everything else.

7) I will be the best wife I can be.

Finally, and most importantly, I will be the best wife I can be.  Everyone who is close to me recognizes how blessed I am to have finally found the man who loves me more than his own life.  Because of that awareness, they are all quick to tell me that I need to do everything in my power to keep him!  Even last night my brother said, “You need to make sure Joe is good.  You have to keep him happy before anyone else.”  And that’s true.  My focus needs to be on making sure that he knows each and every day how much I love and respect him.  I need to allow him to be the spiritual leader in our home so that we can be the best US that we can be.  As I heard at a wedding this weekend, a successful relationship is not about loving each other more than ourselves… it’s about loving US more than anything else.

And I do love US.

Hope the second half of 2014 is wildly successful for you.  Remember… you don’t have to wait until New Years to make resolutions for change.  We can change ourselves anytime we choose.  Tomorrow is a new day.