Mindful Co-Parenting with Dr. Gaies: A Recap
Nothing complicates divorce—an already complicated topic—more than parenting. The emotions are raw and powerful. We may feel defensive about protecting our most precious work—our children. That makes it tricky terrain to navigate during divorce. But that’s a reality for many of us since nearly half of all marriages in the US end in divorce.
This week we’ve taken a deep dive into the work of psychologist, family mediator and author Dr. Jeremy Gaies. His books, A Clear and Easy Guide to Collaborative Divorce and (as co-author) Mindful Co-Parenting: A Child-Friendly Path through Divorce describe a six step approach to mindful co-parenting that can help us digest one of the scariest parts of divorce.
Do You Need Help with Co-Parenting?
As a parent, you’re surely tuned into your child’s behavior especially when it comes to topics that have to do with the divorce. But there may be some things going on that are a little less obvious. Warning signs that your child may be struggling with the divorce:
- Academic or behavioral problems
- Mood swings
- Less socializing with friends
- Less cooperation with everyday tasks
- Decreased self-esteem
- Increased irrational fears
- Lack of interest in communication
So what can you do to help return that stability to the parent-child relationship?
Steps to Mindful Co-Parenting
In the book Dr. Gaies co-authored with Jim Morris about co-parenting, Mindful Co-Parenting: A Child-Friendly Path through Divorce, they discuss six key steps to mindful co-parenting.
The six keys that we’ve explored with Dr. Gaies have a common theme: they’re all about perspective and managing your own limits.
- Putting the children first. This is the cornerstone of everything parents should do after divorce.
- “Focusing forward”. There’s hurt, history and baggage in the past. Focusing forward keeps you from getting stuck in the past.
- Communicating effectively is the underpinning of any good relationship—it’s how they work through problems, resolve disputes and ultimately understand each other.
- Honoring agreements established in a parenting plan. Create an outline for how you will co-parent. Then commit to it.
- Maintaining boundaries. That means we take steps to make sure other people don’t intrude on your space, but also that we stay in the lines and don’t cross over into other people’s space.
- Managing emotions. No matter how angry or frustrated you are, manage your emotions. You can’t say things that might inadvertently hurt your co-parenting relationship.
Adhering to these six keys of mindful co-parenting can take some time and growth. But they’re important, not just to your own peace of mind, but to your happiness, and that of your children.
As a parent, you’ve put your children first before. In this critical moment for parents, it’s essential you have a plan that supports your parenting—and you.
Read the whole series about Mindful Co-Parenting after Divorce:
- Mindful Co-Parenting: An Introduction
- Key One of Mindful Co-Parenting after Divorce: Putting the Children First
- Key Two of Mindful Co-Parenting after Divorce: Focusing Forward
- Key Three of Mindful Co-Parenting after Divorce: Communicating Effectively
- Key Four of Mindful Co-Parenting after Divorce: Honoring Agreements
- Key Five of Mindful Co-Parenting after Divorce: Maintaining Boundaries
- Key Six of Mindful Co-Parenting after Divorce: Managing Emotions