Perhaps you are in the middle of a conflict with your co-parent or maybe even preparing for a legal battle in court with them. You may be consumed with fear, anxiety or maybe even panic. In order to be prepared, you find yourself staying up late typing summaries, transcribing hostile messages, and indexing email correspondence to prepare for the battle. If the issue is ongoing you are likely responding and defending (maybe even attacking) each and every one of your co-parent’s texts and emails. You are caught in the belief that every communication received deserves a response which simply encourages you to become defensive, definitely fueling and extending the current conflict.
Most importantly, with this fear or dread hanging over your head you do not have enough time in the day to attend to everything that is important including really focusing on your children. Sure they are fed and are getting the basics but is the anger directed at the other parent costing you precious moments with them?
If your children were to draw a picture of life with you at this very moment would it show you on your phone or computer pounding away with an angry expression? Attending to your children does not mean that a “good parent” entertains them 24/7 or that the parent’s personal needs are completely over-looked. However, we have all experienced what it feels like to be talking to someone such as a parent, spouse or an important friend and simply recognizing that they are only going through the motions. The person you may be interacting with is present in body only. There is nothing satisfying about being with someone who has their head in the newspaper, their cell phone or other distracting activity. Taking time to notice what is really good in our lives at any moment is a way to live in gratitude and manage stress. Appreciate your children in this very moment and know they are growing up right before your eyes. This may help you balance your ability to be present and attentive with the necessary requirements of your day.
Children comprehend more than we give them credit for. They can tell if we are half-heartedly going through the motions to give them attention when we want to be somewhere else. This is not the message we want to give our children-that they are a bother, a burden, or not important enough to pay attention to. Often children will pick up on our stress, our impatience, our irritation or even a headache. At the very time we hope our children will cooperate, is t when typically they become more demanding or even act out. Of all times- this is when they want more than we have to give! Yet all our important relationships require sincere attention, with absolutely no distractions, even if it is only for 10-15 minutes a day.
Recently I read about a rescue boat that went out to pick up a stranded boat and crew. While pulling the disabled boat towards shore, the rescue team noticed an amazing sight of migrating orange butterflies following overhead. When they asked the men they rescued about this amazing sight, the survivors had no idea what the men were talking about. They had been so focused on their boat and their troubles that they had never taken the moment to look up into the sky to see this beautiful sight. You may want to ask yourself “Am I missing the obvious wonders of our children because I am so focused on my fears, my anger or the “co-parenting conflict?”
This is one of those “stop and smell the roses” times. Notice your children, the way they do something, the dimples in their hands or the way they giggle. These are the moments that make your life truly rich. If you do not take the time to notice now -you will only see these moments from the rear view mirror of your life. Don’t let the other parent, or the way you feel about them, take your power away especially the ability to enjoy the moments you have with your children. Cultivate a daily commitment to live in gratitude every day no matter what happens to you. This is a matter of choice.
Widely known for her expertise in the area of divorce and the family, she provides training to educators, family law and mental health professionals, as well as “High-conflict divorce” and “Parenting Coordination”.She has trained parenting coordinators since 1997, and as a result, co-authored the first and only comprehensive model of parenting coordination. Respected in their field, Susan has conducted numerous seminars on the international, national, state and local levels on topics such as parental alienation and visitation refusal, interviewing children, therapeutic and supervised visitation and developmentally appropriate time-sharing plans.
She has been awarded clinical membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and is a member of multiple organizations including the Academy of Professional Family Mediators, American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.Mrs. Boyan maintains a private practice in Georgia.
Latest posts by Susan Boyan (see all)
- Seek and You Shall Find;Confirmation Bias with Divorce - July 1, 2015
- King Solomon’s Advice on Co-Parenting - June 3, 2015
- Part II. Different Paths to Seek a Divorce - May 21, 2015