Co-parenting headspace… the messages we send matter.
Let’s talk about messaging and what we say and DON’T say to our children when trying to parent from two homes. Nothing is more difficult when restructuring your family than being able to keep your parent brain and your spouse/partner brain separate. It takes practice, patience, and true grit to do this, let’s use some visuals to get in the right headspace…
Imagine a huge balloon, this balloon is your child’s favorite color. Now, imagine you tie that balloon onto your child’s backpack while they are taking a walk with you. Your child looks back at you, sees the balloon, they smile, giggle a little, and then turn to go back to walking with you. They always know the balloon is there…to lift them up, to help them feel weightless and light.
This is how children feel when they don’t have to carry the burden of adult conflict, or hurtful words towards their other parent(s). This is how children feel when they are insulated from the challenges and conflicts between co-parents, and when they are kept out of the middle.
Now, imagine a large backpack and placing it on the back of your child. Imagine you have some sand, some pebbles, some stones, and maybe even some boulders. What might that feel like for your child if you add pebbles, stones, boulders to their back? The weight, the burden they may feel from all of it. Oftentimes pebbles are added to a child’s backpack, when a parent is frustrated with the other parent, and out of that frustration they lash out with hurtful words…in front of their children. This is how children feel when they are handed the burden of adult conflict or hurtful words towards their other parent(s).
This is how children feel when they are made to carry the burden and the weight of being put in the middle. Need more support in how to navigate your child’s backpack and keep in free from burdens? Check out Module 1 in our Parenting From Two Homes Course and learn how!
Let’s think about some of the ways we add weight or some of the ways we can choose to add lift for our children…the message children need to hear is, “I’ve got this, it’s hard and I am sad and I got this, I’m your parent and I can handle this, you get to be a kid and I will take care of this”.
|Type of weight||Instead of this….(weight)||Try this…..(lift)|
|Sand||“Your dad forgot to sign your permission slip, I guess he doesn’t want you to go this year.”||“It sounds like your permission slip didn’t get signed, let me call your dad and we will problem solve this together.”|
|Pebbles||“Your mom’s late again, maybe she forgot to pick you up”||“I’m sorry no one is there to pick you up, that must feel scary. Let me call your mom and one of us will be there right away to get you.”|
|Stones||“Ya, your dad never pays for your hockey gear, but why don’t you ask him if he will buy it this year”||“It sounds like you need new gear this year, let me talk with your dad and we will work this out”.|
|Boulders||“Your mom left us because she found someone else”||“This is really hard and we are all sad our family is changing so much. I know you want to know why your mom and I are separating and that is “adult stuff” – you worry about kid stuff and I am not going to share adult stuff with you because it’s not helpful. It’s okay to be sad and we both love you very much.”|
Finding a helpful, calm, grounded headspace before talking or sharing information with your children can greatly impact whether they feel “lift” or “weight” in their journey of living in two homes. Need support on how to find this CALM? Check out our Parenting from Two Homes Course, Module 1 provides multiple tools for supporting parenting finding CALM.
Need help getting into a positive headspace? Try some of these apps
Want something with more support and the ability to track your emotions? Try Sanvello.