Divorce itself doesn’t cause long-term harm to children. Research shows that it is the conflict between parents during and after divorce that causes lasting psychological harm. And the number one factor that impacts the level of conflict or presence of peace within your co-parenting relationship is each parent’s mindset. It influences everything.
Your mindset is a combination of your beliefs, thoughts, emotions, assumptions, and attitudes that shape how you think, feel, and act. Every word you choose, every decision you make, and every challenge you navigate is motivated by your mindset.
Thank goodness your mindset is a choice! And you can change it at any time. It’s a matter of what you choose to focus on.
Will you choose to focus on what you don’t want from your co-parent—what they’ve done wrong, their past mistakes, and their negative qualities? Will you discuss these with your friends and family or zing your co-parent with them to prove a point? Will these be the stories you tell your children?
Or, will you choose to focus on what you want for your children—what you want for your own life and how you want to internalize your co-parenting relationship? Will you acknowledge the positive things about your co-parent? Will you communicate with your co-parent directly and genuinely about what you want and why, especially when you disagree?
Choosing a positive focus regardless of your past experiences is one of the most courageous things you can do in your life—as a parent and a human being. It’s a never-ending practice and growth opportunity with endless benefits.
With this mindset, you have the best chance at a peaceful relationship with your co-parent. And, if your co-parent has a negative mindset and engages in uncooperative behavior beyond your control, your mindset will, at least, allow you to find peace within yourself.
Ultimately, when you choose a courageous co-parenting mindset, you and your children have the opportunity to reach your highest level of health and happiness possible.
Courageous Co-Parenting is Raising Arizona Kids’s 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.