Children aren’t born with a natural ability to respect others; in many regards, respect is cultural. This has to be taught. In fact, children are natural manipulators, working to meet their own personal needs. It is our job as parents to teach them to not only respect us and others but to also respect themselves.
The best way to teach respect is to model it. Always remember that kids mimic everything they see. When you treat them and all of those they love, with the respect that will help to guide their behavior. Conversely, if they see their parents behaving in a disrespectful manner, that will encourage them to be disrespectful. They are putting all of their trust in you to teach them right from wrong. Be the role models they need and deserve!
In some ways, the definition of respect may be universal. However, we are all different people who have different ideas of what respect means to us. This is why you need to ensure you’re in alignment with your co-parent. Being consistent will help to alleviate confusion for your children and better facilitate the learning process for them.
“How would your life be different if…You stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.” – Steve Maraboli
Encourage Your Child’s Family Relationships
Family is fundamental to the healthy development, growth, and socialization of children. They thrive on love, learning, and human connections. Nature and nurture factors will both strongly impact a child’s outcome. The more love and support they have, the more confident, independent and loving they will be.
Children of intact families are generally surrounded by family members who are naturally encouraging their relationships with the rest of their family. Even if one parent works outside of the home or travels frequently, the children know they will return, they are talked about in their day-to-day lives, and they are likely surrounded by their pictures, possessions, and presence in their home.
With separation and two separate homes, parents need to make a more conscious effort to encourage their child’s relationship with their other parent and family members. Children need to know they are loved unconditionally, and they are allowed to love without restrictions or guilt. Teach your children the importance of family.
“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” – Michael J. Fox
Open and Honest Communication
It’s no secret that communication is challenging. As co-parents, it’s critical in order to ensure you are working together collaboratively as parents.
Good communication will help manage and balance the child’s two homes, help to develop trust, and it will allow you to comfortably talk about school, health and other important topics to maintain a mutual understanding of the children’s current and future needs.
There are a few rules that are non-negotiable:
- Adult matters shouldn’t be discussed in the presence of children
- Listen to understand, not just to respond
- Communicate honestly in a timely manner
If you are struggling with face-to-face communication due to conflict, personal schedules, etc., you can begin with other forms, such as video, phone, email or text. Written communications will be more difficult to read tone and non-verbal cues, but it can be a very effective method. It may also be helpful to begin your partnership as if you were in a formal business relationship, similar to if you were communicating with your child’s teachers or babysitters.
Communication is a skill that everyone can improve. And if you and your parenting partner have had communication problems in the past, you will need to identify the past pitfalls in order to better communicate with each other. It requires patience, but the value of good communication has no price tag. It is invaluable.
“If your relationship has enough trust, honesty and understanding, it should never require promises, terms and conditions.” – Nishan Panwar
Clean the Slate
You’ve likely been through a lot. Mistakes have been made. Words have been said that can’t be taken back. When relationships end, there is often hurt, animosity, tension, and conflict due to a wide variety of reasons. As valid as they may be, it is of vital importance to not let those feelings cloud your judgment, especially regarding the well-being of your children.
In order to sincerely commit to an open, honest and trusting co-parenting relationship, you need to accept your differences and let go of the past. Separation may be the end of one relationship, but it should not end any relationships for the children involved. It is also the start of a new relationship between you and your co-parent.
The first step to starting a successful co-parenting relationship is to Clean the Slate. This doesn’t mean internalizing bad feelings just to maintain appearances, but making a conscious decision to put the past behind you and to start anew. You are parenting partners, equals in your children’s lives. This will mean biting your tongue at times and putting your own personal feelings aside for the health and happiness of your child.
“You have a clean slate every day you wake up. You have a chance every single morning to make that change and be the person you want to be. You just have to decide to do it. Decide today’s the day. Say it: this is going to be my day.” – Brendon Burchard