Can You Control It? A Critical Question in Divorced Co-Parenting

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Can You Control It? A Critical Question in Divorced Co-Parenting
Power in divorced co-parenting comes from differentiating between what you can and can't control

When we accept what we cannot control, it may feel like losing power. But in reality, we gain power, because we now have energy to expend on productive actions.

For instance, a parent spends time on the phone with his ex engaged in an argument that goes nowhere. During this argument, the children are in the background, ignored and feeling the stress that this argument is creating.  Even though this same parent has the desire to raise a happy and fulfilled child, by engaging in this argument, the parent is working against his own desires. If the parent accepted the fact he cannot change his ex and decided not to engage in the argument, instead turning his attention toward his children, he would be doing much more in the moment to contribute to his children’s overall well-being and happiness. 

The fact that we cannot control people means that we cannot make them do what we think they SHOULD do. Let me introduce you to what I call the “Energy Wasting Should Dance.”  We humans have a lot of ideas about what others should and should not do.  We say things like, “but my ex SHOULD pay more child support because it’s the right thing to do. It’s not OK that she doesn’t do that! She SHOULD!” OK, maybe she should, but she doesn’t and you can say that she should to yourself, to her, to your friends, to your child/ren, but repeating it over and over is not going to make her do it, so you are wasting your precious time and energy. If you are saying it over and over to people so that they will see how bad your ex is, you are also wasting your precious time and energy. Does it help anything for others to know how victimized you are or how wrong your ex is?

Be aware of the “Energy Wasting Should Dance.” When you hear yourself using the S word, stop.  Remind yourself that your ex is The Table, and that it doesn’t matter what you think he should or should not do. Accept that he does exactly what he does, and ask yourself how you could better use your energy in this moment to achieve your deeply desired goals.

The idea of accepting what we can and cannot control may seem simple, but it is not easy. We can have a difficult time accepting what we cannot control because it may mean accepting something that is very painful, or that we think may have a negative effect on our children. Acceptance is often accompanied by sadness and grief.  It makes us sad when we realize that we do not have control over the things that are nearest and dearest to us. It saddens us deeply when we realize that we cannot create the kinds of lives for our children that we imagined we would.

It is natural to try to turn away from grief, but ultimately, turning away from grief keeps us in a very stuck place.  Allowing ourselves to feel and move through grief moves us toward a calmer, more grounded place. From this place we can make decisions that are smarter and work more effectively, toward achieving our desires.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.

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