There are NO Winners…

A common theme I have noticed in divorce situations is the desire between the exes to prove who is “the winner” and who is “the loser.” The conclusion I have reached is that if there are two parents who want to prove that they are the winner, then although the winner may be inconclusive… the loser is certain.

The KIDS are the losers.

Why do people have this innate desire to WIN? I know winning brings a feeling of euphoria, but why do these people choose this particular circumstance to try to win when the balance in the lives of their own children is the high price that is at stake?

The truth of the matter is that in divorce there are no winners. As I have written numerous times in the past, we are adults and we can get over ourselves and the situation. However, our ENTIRE focus should be on keeping things as balanced and normal as possible for our kids.

When I hear a child say, “I don’t want both parents there because that’s just weird,” then I immediately know that his or her parents handled the divorce wrong. Of course, this is assuming that there is no abuse present and that both parents are otherwise well-functioning people. The kids whose parents have put their own agendas aside for their kids are the kids who are comfortable loving both mom and dad, even in the same place – school performances, games, birthday parties. It’s the kids whose parents have tried their best to alienate their ex or undermine their ex who just want to avoid any contact between their parents because they know it won’t end well.

I get angry even as I type that because I just can’t understand how anyone who is any kind of a parent at all can purposefully put themselves and their own agenda above the happiness and security of their own children. I think those sad individuals are the ones who were probably never given role models on how to correctly behave in divorce situations. And I’ll take that even further to say they probably had no role model on how to be a respectable adult either.

Listen to your children. If they are not comfortable being near you both or they try to avoid situations where they have to invite you both to events, then YOU HAVE FAILED. You may feel like a winner because you have successfully convinced anyone who will listen how terribly you were wronged and how they too should despise your ex. Sorry, you can hang up your white hat because you don’t deserve it.

With that being said, it’s never too late to right the wrongs of the past.

Seek help. Even if your ex is unwilling, then you and your spouse need to attend co-parenting counseling on how to best help return some normalcy in the lives of your children. Therapists can be a great resource. I’ve gotten calls from two different friends who have recently started going to counseling with their ex and they both bring their spouses. If you can’t imagine doing that, then you need to rethink your priorities. In my opinion, those four couples are WINNERS. They are putting aside their own comfort to ensure the happiness of their children.

I’m excited about the future in our lives as we work hard to right the wrongs. At least I can go to bed at night and know that through it all we have given it our best. I’m hopeful. The kids deserve normalcy since they didn’t ask to go on this roller coaster with us. I want our kids to be the winners… even if it’s our expense.

What are you willing to do to fix your parenting failures??????

The Struggle Of Communicating With Parents Who Don’t Communicate

This blog was originally posted on Carolina Parent Magazine’s website.

It’s that time of year again… the time when most parents rejoice and most kids moan. Back to school! After about 10 weeks of no bedtimes, sodas with dinner, and phones kept in bedrooms at night, the dreaded (or welcomed, depending on whom you ask) routine returns. The past couple of weeks have been tough in our house because the kids are fighting us tooth and nail regarding rules that they followed just fine only a couple of months ago. It’s also a tough time because with new schedules and routines, there is a lot of information that must be shared between parents. This sharing of information can often be a struggle for many divorced families.

I write a lot about the importance of communication in the co-parenting situation. Everyone knows it is best for the kids for their parents to do what they can to get along. Keeping secrets from the other parent and/or keeping them out of the loop when it comes to school performances or doctor’s visits puts the children in the middle. I have said a million times that forcing children to choose a side is very harmful and will have lasting effects on them.

While the struggle may be real for the children and parents, people often fail to realize that it’s a tough time for teachers and principals as well. Last weekend I was sitting out at a practice for one of my kids and someone asked me what I was doing. I told her that I was working on a blog for back to school in divorced families, but I couldn’t think of what to write about that was not already done. I had a principal on one side of me and a teacher on the other side and they shared with me how hard it is to deal with parents who don’t communicate with each other. That is a point of view I had not considered. Here are some of the points they made:

MISPLACED ANGER The parents are often so angry with each other, that if they are left off of an email or left out of a meeting, then they immediately attack the teacher or principal. If you are in a blended or divorced family, help the teachers out by always copying your ex on emails regarding the children. If you get a response and see that the teacher inadvertently left off the other parent, forward the message to the other parent. You may not like that person, but they have a right to be completely involved. It’s what is best for the children.

MORE WORK FOR TEACHERS Parents who can’t communicate are the ones who insist that the teacher make two copies of everything to be sent home or they require two separate meetings because they don’t want to sit at the same table with each other… even though it’s about the kids and not about them. The teacher I spoke to said it requires so much more work to make sure everyone stays informed. There are ways that you can help make things easier on the teachers. What my ex and I do is whoever signs the syllabus or report card scans a copy and sends it to the other immediately. That way we are kept informed and the teacher doesn’t have to do extra work. We also make sure that if one of us attends an Open House and the other one doesn’t, then we are sure to put both of our names and email addresses on all lists. Another thing we do is if one of us fills out a permission form, we always put the other parent as the emergency contact. It’s common courtesy to include the other parent whenever you complete any form for your child.

THE PAIN OF BEING PUT IN THE MIDDLE When a parent emails a teacher and shares information but does not copy the other parent, it puts the teacher in a very uncomfortable situation of not knowing what he/she can share with the other parent if then contacted separately. From what they told me, many parents will get angry with the teacher for sharing something with the other parent. It’s often much simpler for the teacher is everyone is copied on all emails and everyone attends all meetings. It eliminates the possibility of misinterpretation.

While all of these ideas are good in an ideal situation, they did acknowledge that sometimes if the parents are extremely difficult and are absolutely unable to put their own issues aside for the best interest of their child, then it can actually be better to have separate meetings because it keeps the conflict down and eliminates any he said/she said. However, you should do whatever you can do to not be one of those high conflict divorces. Try to help the teachers and school administrators by putting your differences aside to communicate for the kids. If you can’t do it for the teachers, then just focus on doing it for your children. Never forget that studies show that it is always best for your children for you to keep controversy to a minimum. The kids are not the only ones who will benefit.

Remove Emotions From Co-Parenting

Published originally today on the Huffington Post:

English: A metaphorical visualization of the w...

English: A metaphorical visualization of the word Anger. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Co-parenting following divorce can be very challenging to say the least. You feel like you have finally broken the ties of marriage, but you find yourself having to deal daily with the one person you want nothing to do with. As soon as you are able, you need to do everything in your power to remove emotions from the co-parenting equation. Do not enter this new role with preconceived ideas. Try to focus on the fact that the marital relationship is over, so this is your new role as co-parents. For the kids, you must remove emotion and start fresh. Let the old ghosts go.

Sure, I get that your ex was irresponsible with your finances. That’s awful. Yeah, so maybe she was having an affair with your next door neighbor. Despicable! But what do those past transgressions have to do with raising your children NOW? Nothing. The marital relationship is over and the co-parenting relationship has begun. And this relationship will last for the rest of your lives.

Just like in a business partnership, you must remain professional in this new role. It seems that the parents who focus on their own agenda or refuse to cooperate with the other parent are the ones who are still harboring a great deal of resentment or anger over the divorce. As a result of this anger, they are only hindering the children’s healing.

From my experience, I have learned that who initiated the divorce is not predictive of who harbors the most anger. I think that the pendulum can swing based on certain life changes. The pendulum can also swing based on the passion each side feels about a certain topic — for example, educational or medical decisions.

The problem with allowing emotion in is that when emotion is involved, logic isn’t. You cannot have a reasonable discussion or think logically when you are caught up in your own internal emotional battle. How can you possibly agree on any major issues when you are being ruled strictly by your emotions? The anger you may feel toward your ex will only cloud your judgment and cause you to make decisions based on revenge rather than focusing on the best interests of your children.

Sure, you can claim to be unemotional, but if you resort to name calling or hanging up on your ex or refusing to respond to emails/texts, then you are clearly working on emotions rather than focusing on your shared vision for the children.

In order to put the kids first, you first have to release your anger. You may feel anger over the events that led up to the divorce. You may feel anger over your ex getting remarried. You may feel anger about how your ex treats you. All of this anger is valid and is a natural part of the grieving process, but just like grieving, you have to work through the feelings to move on with your life. And your children NEED you to move on with your life.

Playing the victim card doesn’t work in this new role as a co-parent either. If you find yourself playing the victim role, then you are basically declaring that you are not strong enough to move forward. If you repeat the story about how you were wronged in your marriage over and over to anyone who will listen, then you are stuck. It may be time to seek professional help. Why are you allowing him/her that much power over your emotions? You need to gain control of your emotions so that you can be a good parent.

Letting go of your anger and emotions all starts with your thoughts. Turning those thoughts around is something that only you can change. Changing your ex is out of your control, so take control of YOU and start the process of healing.

For your children, you need to make it your priority to do whatever is necessary to be able to have a positive co-parenting relationship with your ex. So remove the emotion and embrace this new role as a co-parent. Your children will notice the change in your interactions with your ex and EVERYONE will be more relaxed as a result. You will be surprised when you find yourself able to discuss situations with your ex without raising your voice. Disagreements are inevitable, but with emotions removed, you will be able to handle them together as business partners invested in the future of your kids.

Another Blog Published by Huffington Post…

I submitted a variation of the re-post from yesterday to the Huffington Post and they published it yesterday.   The points are the same, but just condensed and neatened up a little.  Thanks again for your continued support!!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/valerie-deloach/are-you-dealing-with-a-co_b_4182199.html

I will post a recipe today that I have been meaning to post.  It’s a great one for a large family like us!!  And there will be no posts this weekend… I am taking the weekend off from my blog to work solely on my book!

HAPPY FRIDAY!