During our last Strengthening the Co-Parenting Team course, I worked with a family who was struggling with an anxious child, a strained parental relationship and a technology addiction.
The father routinely tells his child that his game time is up and that it is time to get ready for bed. Child ignores his father. Moments later, father prompts child again. Child begins negotiating for more time. This escalates, father doesn’t budge and son storms away to find his mother.
Child talks to mother about the logic behind being able to continue to play and make his 10:30pm curfew. Father walks in to defend his position that game time is up. Child screams at father to “stay out of this”, shouting, “this is none of your (expletive) business”. Mother tells father that she can deal with it and asks him to leave.
Father storms off ruminating that child is not going to be able to take responsibility later in life if he can’t even get off of the game when asked. Mother negotiates with child. Child continues his game for another 30 minutes and makes his curfew on time.
This might sound like a positive story where everyone came up with a somewhat workable solution, but in reality, it highlighted a dysfunctional parenting pattern that was playing out in other areas in much less benign ways. Instead of turning it into further resentment and bitterness, it became an opportunity for both parents to learn.
The dysfunctional parenting pattern
The parents became aware that they had a habitual pattern of not valuing each other as individual, capable members of the family. The mother kept fixing everything, as she felt she was the designated peacekeeper between the son and the father.
While this sounds like a noble and worthy role, this undermined the father and suggested that he and his son were incapable of coming to resolutions on their own, which lead to the son devaluing his father even more than he already did.
Throughout the four weeks of the course, this mother was able to learn how how to respond in the moment, in a way that allowed her to be available to her son without undermining her husband’s parenting. She learned how to encourage her son to work through things with his father, on his own, in a healthy way.
we actually want to co-parent, together, again
My husband and I now feel much more valued by each other...we actually want to co-parent together again.
Here’s what really impacts a child’s wellbeing
A 2009 study from the University of London, on families, stated that it is not the type of family (divorced, partnered, married or single parented) that impacts a child’s well being, but, more important, how the family functions, as a whole.
This might seem obvious, but often we are not aware of how our own habits might not be contributing to the health of our family’s functioning; or we might be aware that we can no longer be at odds with our co-parent, but we don’t know how to break old habits.
Even though the mother was intervening to keep the peace and make everybody happy, her efforts were exacerbating unhealthy behaviors for her son, preventing the father from being able to have a direct relationship with his child and exhausting herself by having to always be the middleman.
The importance of taking the time to pause in our relationships
We’re living in a time where fast-paced over scheduled lives; parental over-involvement; fear-based parenting; over connection to digital devices; and anxiety ridden children and adults are becoming the norm. It’s no surprise that two parents don’t take the time to pause long enough to examine their relationship and the impact it is having on the entire family system, until the problems become too severe to ignore.
Like these parents, perhaps you have witnessed your child’s aggression or violence when trying to turn the screen off after 10 hour of addicted game time; or you have seen your child depressed and unable or unwilling to go to school; maybe what started off as some typical teen experimentation has turned into an unhealthy identity with the drug culture and addiction.
Or maybe you are just starting to notice things that aren’t drastic, but are starting to concern you. This could be a child who constantly demands to have things done for her and blames the world when things go wrong; an inability to get work completed, though you are aware he is smart and capable; a child who stays up too late with an eye on social media; or a quickly declining self-esteem. Sometimes even these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.
Whether you’re just starting to see signs of troubling behavior within your family system or you’re struggling with how to create healthy habits that empower everyone, Strengthening the Co-Parenting Team is an online course that can help. The course guides parents toward personal growth and active skills that positively impact the entire family dynamic.
we are finally able to present a more unified front when dealing with challenges with our daughter
After taking the course, we feel more supportive of each other’s parenting decisions and we are finally able to present a more unified front when dealing with challenges with our daughter. It is a huge relief to no longer be fighting, and instead to be engaging and modeling healthy communication.
If you’d like to strengthen the relationship that you have with your co-parent, please join me for our upcoming 4-week online Strengthening the Co-Parenting Team course that starts on November 11, 2016.
Buy Now: Strengthening The Co-Parenting Team Course
Automatically save 25% when your co-parent joins the course with you! $299 for one person. $449 for two people.
Solutions Parenting Support
If you sign up by November 4, you’ll get a bonus one-on-one session with me to discuss your individual situation, set appropriate goals and get personalized support throughout the course, plus a bonus booster group session in 2017 to stay on track.
I feel a huge relief now
I generally feel like I know myself, and I have been in a lot of therapy (and was pretty over it before taking the course). But the work that I did, in the course, helped me face the mirror a bit more honestly and to ‘claim rather than blame’ as Hilary would say. I feel a huge relief now that I have a better understanding of what I have control over and what I do not.