By Michael Aurit, JD, MDR
Struggling to agree on the pick-up time for Christmas morning? Unable to reach an agreement on Winter Break schedules? Are co-parenting conversations turning into arguments? You are not alone.
If you fear things will never change, you could consider a different approach. Discover your shared parenting values and make a shared resolution to be guided by these values in all of your interactions. Co-parenting can be healthier. The shift will be life-changing for your children.
Often co-parents will say “If we can’t agree on the details, how can we possibly align on shared co-parenting values?”
But, this is the courageous new perspective: “Aligning on shared co-parenting values can guide us to agree on the details.”
Even co-parents who had different values as spouses can identify shared co-parenting values after divorce. Many co-parents who struggle with ongoing conflict share many of the same parenting values. Bringing these higher-level agreements to the surface and committing to remain true to your shared values is the game-changer.
Some commonly shared parenting values include:
- We will be considerate and flexible with each other’s scheduling needs.
- We will treat each other with professionalism.
- We will not say negative things about each other near the children.
- We will not pass messages through the kids or ask questions about the other parent.
You can also identify your own highest-level parenting values to guide all of your communications and behaviors, you might consider:
- We will act in ways that make our kids feel loved.
- We will make proposals rather than demands when we want to change something.
- We recognize that attacking our co-parent is an attack on ourselves.
Disagreements on the details can resolve quickly, and with far less conflict, when you both have an understanding of your mutual parenting values. Embrace them as your co-parenting compass. These values will remind you of the larger picture, set you back on the right path, and keep conflict from escalating.
This new year, make a joint resolution to act according to your shared values, and to recover from conflict by remembering those values. If you need support for the conversation, a professional family mediator or family therapist can help.
Courageous Co-Parenting is Raising Arizona Kids’s monthly column for separating or divorced parents to learn conflict resolution skills, strategies, and attitudes for healthy co-parenting. These concepts apply to all parents. Please feel free to share the column with your co-parent.
Michael Aurit, JD, MDR, is a Professional Mediator and Co-Founder of The Aurit Center for Divorce Mediation in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is President of The Academy of Professional Family Mediators. He is also an Adjunct Professor at The Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law and Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law. Michael is married to Karen Aurit, and they live in Phoenix, Arizona with their three and five-year-old daughters. Michael can be reached at email@example.com. To learn more, visit auritmediation.com