As a newly solo parent, I’ve been thinking a fair bit about co-parenting and how to make the most of shared care. I came across a podcast about being a “High Value” person and, as it does, my brain started turning over how this idea can be applied to parenting.
I think co-parenting is one of those tricky things that you never really plan on doing. I certainly didn’t. But now that we’re here I want to get it right for my kids.
My parents were divorced and always did an amazing job of respectfully co-parenting. To us kids they seemed to be generous in their flexibility with each other, cooperative and kind. They had firm boundaries around who did what when, but during hard times especially (like in the teen years!) they worked together to do what was best for us wherever they could.
I wonder if it was those three things: co-operation, kindness and generosity — which my parents showed each other — that led to their success in co-parenting.
The three qualities of “High Value” people
The podcast I listened to argued that co-operation, kindness and generosity are the three qualities that make you a “High Value” person. Someone who is great to have around. A great friend, work mate, and partner.
High value people draw in other high value people too. They attract them, because who doesn’t want to have cooperative, kind and generous friends? And I’m not talking about generous with money or things here. High value people might be generous in that way too, but when you generously give people the attention, acceptance and approval that everyone needs and wants (like I talked about last week) that’s even more valuable than gifts or money.
When I was a life-line counsellor I realised how valuable it is to people to have someone give you their undivided attention and really listen. Generously giving people your time and undivided attention is super valuable. How often do you get someone’s undivided attention now? It’s one of the biggest things people complain about isn’t it. I’m always coming across articles about how we need to unplug from our noisy, distracting, busy world. With our phones dinging for our attention, work being demanding, family life being too busy, the super addictive properties of Facebook and Instagram…. we all know we are competing with so many things! Undivided attention isn’t an easy thing to give.
As a Life-Line counsellor, I sat in a tiny sealed-off room with no noise and no distractions. When I was on the phone with someone it was like they were the only person in the world. And people loved it. I couldn’t tell you how many times a person told me how much it meant to them to just have those 20 minutes of someone fully listening. 20 minutes! That was all we gave them. And, usually, that was all they needed. We didn’t even do any official “counselling”, just listened. How easy is that?
And if you are kind and generous with your time, you’ll pretty quickly find other people act the same towards you.
Being a high value person also makes you a high value parent
Co-operative. Kind. Generous.
Co-operating with them and their other parent whenever you can.
Generously giving your kids the three A’s: Acceptance, Attention and Approval.
And, like we quote often in our family, “if you can choose, then choose to be kind.”
The alternative: Low Value parenting
I quite like the idea of High Value parenting (and co-parenting). And, to me, the alternative just doesn’t sit well. Low value parenting seems like the best way to end up spiralling down into a pretty negative place. Low value behaviours can be tempting at times but they are generally short-term fixes to problems. Blaming is one low value behaviour that is tricky to avoid. When things go wrong — the kids are being hard work, or you’re running late for their dance class again — it’s so easy to blame the other parent or our children. I’ve been here. If only they’d stop mucking around! I told them 10 minutes ago to put their shoes on! Seriously hard when you’re stressed out.
Being argumentative or combative is another low value behaviour. And also a tricky one, especially in the co-parenting situation where, obviously, things haven’t been going well between you and the other parent.
Other low value behaviours include being passive, begging, people pleasing, or being competitive. Competitive parenting and comparing ourselves to other parents, as easy as it is to do, just puts us on the slippery slope to depression.
So let’s all do our best to drop those low value behaviours that hold us back and keep us miserable! Let’s aim to be cooperative, kind and generous. To be those High Value people and High Value parents our kids need — whether we are parenting together, alone or co-parenting!
If you are recently divorced or separated grab your own copy of: Kids Ask Hard Questions: 15 questions kids ask during separation and divorce (and how to answer them). I’ve made this ebook completely free for you because, even if we are solo parents, we don’t have to do it all on our own!
Until next time,
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