Setting a co-parenting example | Columnists | #parenting

“We aren’t raising children, we are raising adults,” as said by Dr. Phil McGraw. I have given a lot of thought to this statement and how it can be associated to how people co-parent.

As I have written before, the goal of co-parenting is to co-parent in a way that has the least amount of stress, tension and upset on the children. Co-parent in a way that allows the children to love both parents without fear, guilt or disapproval and co-parent in a way that the children will not have to recover from. All of that is descriptive of co-parenting that is/was respectful and responsible, effective and healthy. That, in turn, results in children who are healthy, happy and well adjusted into adulthood.

Now, here is a thought. … Your children may as adults find themselves in a similar situation where they have children and are co-parenting with an ex.

If the co-parenting example that was set for them was respectful and responsible, then most probably they too will co-parent that way. We are teachers and children learn by example. If your co-parenting example was/is high conflict, they won’t know how to co-parent differently than that example that you set for them.

When you co-parent respectfully and responsibly, you are also doing so many other things that you may not even realize. 1. Setting an example for how to treat people in the middle of difficult circumstances. 2. Not allowing the children an opportunity to pit one of you against the other by presenting a united front. 3. You are creating a new normal that is not confusing for the children. There are many more examples, but think about those three for the positive that can happen from respectful and responsible co-parenting.

I am so proud of my co-parenting relationship with my ex. We set an amazing co-parenting example (in my opinion) for our daughter. Co-parenting respectfully and responsibly without conflict will allow your children to know what they do and do not want for their own co-parenting journey should they find themselves separated or divorced with minor children.

Something else to think about: once the children are grown adults and out of the house and have children of their own, you and your ex are still setting an example. My grandchildren do not give a second thought to my ex and I being at their house at the same time. We continue a respectful and responsible relationship for the same reasons as when we started our co-parenting journey when our daughter was four years old. We act in a way that our grandchildren feel no stress, tension or upset: a co-parenting example for a new generation.

My ex lives close to our daughter and grandchildren and I do not. He continues thoughtful co-parenting by doing things that he doesn’t have to do, but that means so much to me. He makes a choice (formula part number one) when he is with them to send me pictures and videos of our grandchildren periodically and I appreciate that so much. I have also said this before too; being civil is key or can be key for you and your co-parenting journey.

A weekly thought for you: Co-parent in a way that others will want to emulate; a respectful and responsible co-parenting example.

I hope you all have a great week.

KARI CLEMMER, a DeKalb High School graduate, is author and instructor of The Co-Parenting Workshop and instructs co-parenting education and is a co-parenting coach in Dallas. Email with questions or comments.

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