Divorced or separated parents often compete for their children’s love. The competition springs from insecurity, hurt, suffering, embarrassment, and other emotions caused by the separation. They focus on getting things right with their kids after a broken marriage. They are making it their goal to make their child smile more than their partner because it will make them a loser.
These sentiments are understandable but not excusable. Co-parenting should not be viewed as a win-lose situation, opposite to what society conditioned it to be. These parenting fights can negatively impact the children, putting them in a position where they have the power over something involving emotions that they are too young to understand. There are several ways parental competition turns up.
Most parents’ natural inclination after a divorce is to console their kids. The avoidance of punishment or attempts to undermine the other parent’s norms and regulations might be manifestations of these protective impulses in a parent. Avoiding the word “no” to gain a child’s favor has no positive effect on their development. Children need rules and discipline to learn healthy and socially acceptable actions. Spankings and humiliation are not equivalent to discipline.
On the contrary, firmly stating “no” reduces misunderstanding and strengthens a child’s sense of physical and emotional security. For their growth, it’s crucial to establish and adhere to age-appropriate guidelines, such as when and how late they can stay up on school nights as opposed to weekends. Children learn about limits, delayed gratification, self-control, responsibility, and citizenship through discipline. They develop into thoughtful, assertive people who can bear discomfort and deal constructively with life’s ups and downs.
Competing co-parents frequently shower their kids with material possessions, either to console them and temporarily make them happier or to make one parent feel like they “one-up” the other. But the temptation to buy more and better presents can become an uncontrollable, escalating rivalry that strains budgets and damages parent-child ties. Children are taught wrong messages about healthy, loving relationships and money.
Additionally, it’s not uncommon for parents to compete with one another regarding birthday and holiday spending. While trying to outdo the other parent may bring momentary joy, it can have long-term detrimental effects on the child by instilling unachievable expectations in them. Set clear expectations with your co-parent and maintain open lines of communication, especially around holiday gift-giving, to ensure a budget is created and followed.
Steps to Take
Recognizing the causes of the above-described co-parent competition is the first step in preventing it. The next stage is to decide what CAN be done to stop this from happening or to make a positive change. These actions are imperative:
• Put the child first
Choose what is beneficial for the child’s growth over what is most convenient at the time. The other parent is likely working toward the same goal, so there is something you can both agree on and build on.
Work on establishing a line of communication so that you can have an adult discussion about expectations and rules. It might not happen right away, but it is a start.
• Establish a budget
Creating and following a plan for shared co-parenting spending helps ease communication goals by lowering stress. To record, share, and pay for child-related expenses, look into co-parenting apps like DComply, which are available for iPhone and Android.
• Employ a consultant to draft a parenting plan
A parenting plan can be created and followed by co-parents with the assistance of a skilled family mediator or attorney. This knowledgeable individual will have the foresight to prepare for circumstances that a parent might not consider, such as agreement on the kinds of foods permitted, bedtime routines, and the amount of media a child can watch.
Nobody Loses Here
When it comes to co-parenting, there are no winners and no losers. Parents are struggling with a range of emotions. Recognize that you both have what is best for the kids in mind. Each parent brings love and unique qualities to the table, and both parents’ influence is essential to developing kids who grow up to be well-rounded, independent people.
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