Part 4 - House Rules of Co-Parenting
As a co-parent you are going to hear words out of your child's mouth that sounds like, "At (insert mom or dad) house he lets us do xyz". And so now a new form of mediation starts. Remember this, when you have children, you will have to mediate from the time they slither out of bed and until the time they get put in bed, tied down, and asleep. Well, maybe not the tied down bit, but it is a thought. Laugh, it is a joke. So now we must talk about the House Rules of Co-Parenting and being "consistent" in both houses.
It does not mean the rules need to be identical, but consistent. The goal, being a co-parent, is to provide your kid(s) with a sense of structure and routine because it will make them feel a sense of security and predictability. If you are consistent in both homes, then they will know what is expected from both parents. Co-parents should never get involved with the rules in the other home or express their anger. Remember you are co-parents. You are independent mediators on children's issues or rules in each home. Be consistent in your house rules but do not expect the other house to do exactly as you do.
Now there are going to be things outside of the home, such as school activities and issues, summer camps, piano lessons, and other stuff that you will need to work out together and talk to each other about. Your children's life has a whole different world then you two co-parents. Work together on those issues, staying focused on what needs to happen or be resolved.
If there is an issue in a co-parenting home that is causing an issue where the child is not feeling comfortable and has told a parent, then that needs to be addressed. Any signs of abuse need to be addressed. But on the general house rules stay out of the way unless you see it abusive.
I hate to use this as an example, but I have seen it first-hand. Some of you have parents that love to get involved in your lives, and they will call you up or come into your lives and tell you the what for. You get offended. Communication gets broken down because of hurt feelings. You have two options when you get hurt feelings or have been hurt, you can feel wounded, or you can become wise. Choose the wisdom because you get nowhere being the victim. Wisdom lets you go forward. Being wounded just wounds everyone one else, your wound spreads to other people. You know what you call that? Conflict. And if you leave the conflict open, delay the conflict, it means you just multiplied the conflict. At that point, call in a mediator to resolve the conflict. This same pattern is what happens when you start getting involved with what is going on in the other parent’s house. Remember, be consistent in the house rules so your child knows what is expected of them in your house(s).
Part 3 - Open Dialogue Communication
Some want to call it "Open Dialogue", I just want to call it "Dialogue that is civil and simple". Sometimes co-parents are too open with the other co-parent and say too much that creates more conflict. Especially a manipulator they want to get their way and do it in a way that creates more disputes between the two. Manipulation is never honest, so you never get honest results.
An open dialogue doesn't mean that you are constantly emailing texting or phoning each other about everything going on in your lives. You do have personal lives, keep it personal. What it does mean is that you're in regular consistent communication with each other about your children. Especially about the things that impact their well-being, their lives. Consistent communication about only the issues that affect the children's lives is encouraged, but don't go overboard. Consistent communication doesn't mean every five minutes, or on the hour or half hour, it just means when something needs to be addressed about the child's needs.
Conversations don't need to be face to face. Use a set communication style that works for you - text email or even a communication service designed for co-parenting. There are several services out there that I like and suggest for co-parenting. It is a way to document everything, and I have even had during the mediation period the co-parents have put me on their apps so I can follow the communication process. I am a real stickler to have a communication plan within the parenting agreement. It is very important.
Our Family Wizard - https://www.ourfamilywizard.com/ is one that is used regularly by the courts and co-parents. A good article on co-parenting aps is: www.momjunction.com/articles/co-parenting-apps_00651599/
The more important key here is to communicate openly, consistently and with integrity and to communicate with your co-parent without the help of your children. Leave your children out of your communication between co-parents. It never works and hurts the child. If you have something to say or request of the other co-parent do with directly with them through your chosen communication process. Do not involve your kids. It is not fair or civil.
In your parenting plan, make sure both co-parents understand what the boundaries are in the communication process as co-parents. If you go beyond the boundaries, then you will be coming back into mediation to resolve the issues. Communicate within boundaries.
Part 2 - Boundaries
So now we set some boundaries on your communication habits that you must redo to communicate better. We know the old rule, it hard to teach old dogs new tricks, or you cannot make people change their established patterns of opinion and behavior when they communicate. However, you can set boundaries that both sides must live to. Yep, you are small children being re-taught to communicate.
So here is the truth, you only have control over you. No one else, just you. You have no control over the other people. For you to have any type of expectation that you can control anything else is just inappropriate and let's face it, it doesn't work. This process begins with only you.
More truth, no matter how right you may think you are about something, the only person you can control is you. The only thing you can control is the example you set. Get the point? It’s all about you.
Now listen to this. If you and your kids' other parent already agree on the most important things - healthcare, education, discipline, and spiritual stuff, you won't have as many urges to want to control your ex's behavior and decisions. Focus in on the most important things that affect your kids. No need to go into what happened in the past, what someone said, what someone did, it is about the down and the current issue. Nothing else. Address the issue of the day that affects the child and work it through. Nothing else matters in your mixed-up mind, focus on what needs to be accomplished for that child and to have the other parent listening and understanding the need. If you dare to bring anything else into the needs list of what you need to be focusing on it - your will be the developer of conflict, yes you, the one who wants to write a book of a text to the other side. When the other side gets your text, they don't want to deal with it. The issues that needed to be addressed never gets addressed because now the book you wrote failed as a best seller.
Focus on the important things and don't screw it up with anything else. Want good communication and resolving issues, keep it short and to the point.
Family Finance Conflicts and Mediation
Even if you are in a wonderful, blessed marriage the subject of finance and spending always is always a concern to disrupt a marriage into conflict. Some marriages have been dissolved because of the conflict of finances. We call this financial incompatibility. In a recent divorce study, couples that argue about finances at least once a week are 30% more likely to get divorced. The same study also found that couples with no assets at the beginning of a three-year period are 70% more likely to divorce by the end of that period than couples with $10,000 in assets. Finances is ranked as the 3rd most reason for divorce or 22%. So, with that said, if you are having financial conflicts in the marriage you need to work together on your finances and get it understood where you stand financially.
Those of you having financial conflicts probably do not even budget your money or have a family budget in place. If you do not have a budget in place, then you have no spending rules. You are just opening your wallets and purses and spending not knowing you have real financial concerns. And then the fight comes along when you find out that you have overspent and have no cash left. Now, I am not pointing finger at any one person because in a marriage it is about "we". We overspent. We do not have any money left. We do not know what we are doing.
For those of you reading this before you have said the "I do's". Sit down with a financial mediator and find out where you stand before you get married. The issue may be that you are bringing in student debt of thousands of dollars into the marriage. Some of you may have spent to the limit on your credit cards and your salary is not covering debt. You may have cars, houses, and other debt that you need to know about. And some of you my friends have tax liabilities you are bringing into the marriage. Debt and taxes will bring a lot of conflict into the marriage and you need to know this and have a plan on how you are going to get out of this debt or tax situation before you stand at the marriage alter. Otherwise, if you do not sit down and have a plan, then start planning for a divorce in three years. Be proactive and resolve the financial issues prior to marriage. Think ethically in pre-marriage decisions.
Now those of you that are already married and have together accumulated debt that has led to conflict, it is both your responsibilities. Not just one person in the marriage. Be wise and put together a budget. If you want a free budget I have one on my web site at: BUDGET
This budget worksheet will help you to identify the money flowing into your house and how much is leaping out. It will help you identify items that you can cut out of your budget and allow you to put the money into an emergency fund. Listen, inflation is rising in the United States and in nations around us, that means you are going to need an emergency fund. So, start building it right now. The other issue is that when you go over your budget and building one, you both do it together. One of you may be good at numbers, so do not take over the job by yourself because there will be conflicts if you do it alone. Do it together.
If you are unable to do it together then hire a mediator that has a background in finances to help you through the process. Or maybe you have an ongoing financial dispute that you need resolved. Call a mediator with a financial background that can help you through the disputes and come to a fair way to resolve the issue. However, if you are really focused together, as a team you can resolve these disputes and you will not even have to call your divorce attorney because you think it has come to an end. It is easy to run away from a problem, but it takes real love and guts to fact the problem together.
So let's not be a divorce statistic. Let's get your finances in order and hire a mediator to walk you through the process. Call my office at: 305.824.2963 or send an email to email@example.com
Part 1 - Co-Parenting and Communication
Michael Lodge, NCPM
Nationally Certified Professional Mediator
Lodge & Co.
Over the past few months I have spent some time about the communication process as individuals try and co-parent during the time of separation and divorce. It is not an easy job and that is why communication is so very important.
Co-parenting is the process of sharing parenting time and responsibilities. It is where you are to work together and communicate on a regular basis to continue parenting together, even though you are no longer married. But the responsibility of taking care of these children is huge and the way you communicate is vital to the growth of these children in the co-parenting process.
Now you could not stay together for a various amount of reason, and one of these reason is that you had difficulty communicating while you were married. However, you are separated now., and may even be divorced and all of what happened in the marriage changes because how you are only focused on the children's needs, not your needs. Now what was said in the past, or done in the past, it is now only about being a co-parent and fulfilling the role as mom and dad.
Never think you both are ever going to be in synch. You were not in synch when you were married, so you are not going to change out of marriage. But, you can focus on the needs of the children. Being a healthy co-parent means you are focused on the kids. It is part of the ongoing commitment you and your ex have made when you became parents to your kids. It requires empathy, patience, honesty, and open communication.
The important rule is that what you guys did in your marriage is no longer relevant. We are not going to do the blame game because it took two of you to make the kids and the two of you to tear down a marriage. To be blunt about it! Your only focus now is the kids Not your hurt feelings, not your Manley hood, it is about the children that you brought into this world and to provide them with a family life after the separation or divorce. That is why I love the saying that says, "Adults divorce - families never do". Remember that, because this is going to be your reminder that the children's lives through your actions as co-parents really matter.
In the next few blogs we will talk about:
1. Setting clear boundaries and basis parenting agreements
2. Open dialogue between you and the Children's other parent
3. Being adult and having consistent rules in both homes
4. Creating a parenting schedule
5. Being flexible
6. Mutual respect
7. Keeping your emails and texts 25 words or less
Along the way as we go through this, if you have any questions send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Michael Lodge is a Nationally Certified Professional Mediator specializing in business disputes, as well as family conflicts. He has written three books and hosts an international podcast on IHeartRadio and other podcast media stations.