As part of the Tatler SOS Experts’ Corner, we delve into the subject of legal arrangements surrounding relationships. Here, Marcie Shaoul from Rolling Stone Coaching shares her advice on how to co-parent effectively with an ex-partner.
When two people decide to have children, it is a responsibility that stays with them for the rest of their lives, not just the rest of their relationship. This may seem obvious as an intention, but when unravelling several years of relationship, where money, home, assets and children are involved, it can sometimes get lost amid the stresses and practicalities of separation.
When a marriage or relationship breaks down, whether it is a mutual decision or an acrimonious ending, both parents are invariably caught up in some level of emotion. Untangling the spaghetti of a joint life is far from straightforward. When emotions run high it is hard for parents to remain fully focussed and present on their children. As a result, children are often left feeling unsafe and unstable.
Co-parenting is all about being able to parent effectively with your child’s other parent. It does not mean that you have to be friends or be able to have a fabulous relationship with each other. It may end up like that, but if you’re at the beginning of your separation journey, you’re probably not quite there yet!
Being an effective co-parent is about being able to make decisions with each other about your children, with your children’s best interests in mind. This means only bringing to the conversation things that are relevant. Effective co-parenting keeps your child in a safe parental bubble, even though you’re no longer together. This is essential for your child’s emotional wellbeing from whatever age they are now, all the way through into adulthood.
But when you have been through a difficult separation process or are entangled in a high conflict separation then parenting effectively together can be the last thing on your mind.
As a co-parent coach and founder of The Co-Parent way,™ I work with parents in different states of conflict and move them out of the story of their separation, and help them refocus on bringing their kids up effectively and together.
We don’t do relationship therapy, what we do is get people to communicate again. Communication is key to everything about co-parenting and when parents realise that saying less is often the key to a successful co-parenting relationship, it’s like taking off a pair of tight shoes.
All the emotions that come with separating can be overwhelming. And when we are faced with that overwhelm we can shut down. We move out of being able to think rationally and logically and move into responding, reacting and doing it all without thinking it through.
Usually, separation is initiated by one partner, and the other partner is left in a state of turmoil. The feelings are usually all mixed up together and they don’t run in a straight line. Think more of a jagged landscape with lots of peaks and troughs, rather than a smooth terrain.
Stress, grief, loss, fear, anger, even elation, are all part of the journey. And when we are in the middle of that cocktail, we shut down.
So what actually happens when we shut down?
- We STOP being able to hear
- We Stop being able to think rationally
- We STOP being able to be logical
- We are flooded with adrenaline which causes us to go into fight, flight or freeze
- It’s impossible for us to see someone else’s perspective
- We keep doggedly going on the path they think is right regardless of the evidence
At Sanctum, which is a discreet service aimed at separating parents, experienced divorce and separation professionals Adele Ballantyne, Relationship Therapist and Marcie Shaoul, Co-Parenting coach, provide a unique intensive, combined approach, that enables you to parent effectively together whatever you feel about each other.
Because even if you’re not married anymore, you’re still parents and that responsibility doesn’t go away. We help you own it, and do it in a way that enables your life to move forward in a way that you want it to.
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