I’m still new at this two-houses co-parenting stuff. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of bargaining and back and forth. It’s pretty much daily. And there are lots of changes and unexpected requests.
Dealing with our constant negotiations large and small, contrasted with watching the US Congress muck up negotiations completely has me thinking about how their problems are relevant to parents who are no longer partners. There’s some of the same difficulties as you run into with feuding political parties. So perhaps we can learn from the mistakes are they making what we can avoid, because they certainly aren’t setting a positive example.
Don’t Be A ^#$@!$(&
This should go without saying, but dealing with the opposing party, whether political or just from the divorce, brings out the worst in all of us. Really, this is rule #1. It’s not a time to try and be a diva to get some TV coverage.
It’s Not About You
Right up there with rule #1. It’s about the kids, right? It’s about keeping people safe, fed, clothed, housed and functional human beings. You have a lot on your plate, but more than the petty grievances and anger is the country (Congress) or children (parents) that you’re here to take care of in the first place.
Let The Past Rest
This isn’t the time to get mad about an argument you had a few years ago in, oh, say 2010. Especially if it’s one you’re still mad about losing. Sure, there’s years worth of slights and anger, pain and sorrow, but at some point you have to just move forward and decide to live for today.
Ultimatums Are Stupid
Negotiation and compromise are crucial. Sure, maybe you found the hill you’re willing to die on, but you having died on it isn’t going to make anything easier for anyone, especially when it means EVERYTHING SHUTS DOWN.
Come to the Table
Be willing to compromise. Even if the other side is being stupid and crazy, going through the motions is important. Be the bigger person. Sit down. Stay calm. Be fair. And if you do all those things it’s okay to set limits and refuse to give in to crazy.
Get Your Priorities In Order
If it’s important for the country/kids, it’s important. Even if you don’t like it. Period. Remember Rule #2? This isn’t about you.
Respect Each Other
You don’t have to love each other. There don’t have to be hugs. But you do have to act like adults and acknowledge that you’re both important to your country/kid and that the country/kid will be better off if you can work together. You have common ground as much as you don’t like to admit it.
Spending all your time telling everyone how the other side/person has created the entire problem completely and it’s all their fault is stupid. It makes you look bad. Don’t bring your squabbles out in public. Maybe your approval ratings would go up if you could do what adults are expected to do and work things out.
You Don’t Have to Win All the Time
Sometimes you won’t get your way. Those are the breaks. Don’t be a jerk about it.
Take One For the Team
One of the keys to negotiation is to give up a little to get what you want. This is compromise. You don’t have to give up everything. But if you show flexibility, you’re more likely to get it in return. If you step up when you’re needed, it’s more likely someone will have your back when you can’t manage on your own.
Make Things Happen
Don’t just sit back and twiddle your thumbs when you don’t want to deal. This is what you do when you’re a public servant/parent. You deal. Because people need you to deal. Sure, it can be thankless, but it’s worth it.
Since I’m still something of a newbie I’d love to hear any other tips you have to deal with co-parenting. Or, you know, if you just want to unleash a primal scream at Congress, you can do that, too.