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Wisconsin Parent

The Art of Co-Parenting

Dec 23, 2013 06:33AM ● By Brooke McGee
Raising children is hard work. Without a giant manual to walk us through the nuances of our kids' lives, we come to terms with things like hindsight and humility and more love than the human heart can hold. With so many parenting beliefs and ways to "raise" children, it's sometimes hard not to compare or pass judgment. Today's guest post centers in on the subject of co-parenting and the idea of working together as adults. We're interested in your take on this subject; please leave a comment if you want to weigh in.

One thing always has and always will bring a smile to my face—when I witness a fading art— two adults co-parent kindly with the other half of an influential child’s life. Sadly, I often see  parents uncooperative. Sometimes they are the parent with the legal right to choose (because it is their custody day), not necessarily because they are deciding what is in their offspring’s best interest. Sometimes, we just don’t want to cooperate, even if it’s your spouse.There is a natural tendency to crave control in our lives. We need to have some sort of influence in the meager areas we actually have control of. However, it often reaps tragic results when that control is craved so fiercely that the rights of others are stomped on. The result—emotional pain to all involved that could have been avoided. Caught in the middle: the kids. As parents, we should be better than this.

When did it become okay to tell another competent parent they can’t use their best judgment when it comes to their child? It makes sense to me, (that’s just me of course) that a balanced, healthy parent would keep in mind safety and take into consideration the emotional health of their child. No matter how it happens, by the result of divorce or single parent homes with visitation, it happens. We have lost faith in one another. We distrust the other half. We judge. Or a judge tells us.IMG_0444Sharing a child. I can hardly even write that. When a miracle is made, when you see those two lines on a test, the thoughts you have at the moment are not “someday I will have to share you.” With the exception of a babysitter, no devoted parent wants their child to be handed over, leaving you at the mercy of someone else’s judgment. Maybe it’s because you have 50/50, maybe your just even going to work while the parent is home. But, it doesn’t matter. Decisions need to be made together, and that, is the dying art.

There comes a time when all parents are forced to realize their children have grown. We feel anxious, and actually, that’s okay. It shows responsibility, it shows we care. Eventually we need to suck it up and trust not only ourselves but them. Parents, year by year, length the proverbial leash, we give our children more freedom each year.

While they are growing, these young eyes are watching and learning. No doubt about it, these apples more often than not fall close to the tree. We are leading by example. Do we want to make our children feel they can’t trust their other parent? They look to us for guidance, strength and leadership. By our words and actions we show them more than we realize.IMG_0264Let’s flip the coin and talk about the adults—adult style. What happens when we tell someone they are not good enough, not smart enough, incompetent? I know how I feel. I feel like I don’t want to try. Just because I’m a grown up doesn’t mean that “words will never hurt me.” Because they do. A lot. Words have power. Words can be self-fulfilling prophecies. Use the right words and a parent who believed they were truly doing their best, well, you can break their spirit too. While your children watch.

Sometimes letting go brings a freedom not only to yourself but to those who matter the most.  By trusting someone who truly does have good intentions, you allow them to live up to the potential they can be.  Unrestrained, you allow them to soar.

Brooke McKeeThis story was written by Brooke McGee. In addition to her talents as a freelance writer, Brooke is an equally gifted artist. She lives in Portage, Wisconsin.