Co-parenting with different values can be quite challenging for you as single parents. When you don’t have the same values as your ex, you may see his or her values – or lack of them – as damaging or confusing to your children. Like most parenting challenges, it is best to face the problems by developing a strategy for minimizing any problems for your children. To get started, put some of these co-parenting skills and tips to work for you.
Know Your Own Values
You may want to take some time to identify your values and solidify them. It can be as simple as a listing general values and core values. Want to go more in-depth? Prioritizing your values may be helpful as well. If you aren’t sure where you stand on something, think long and hard. Depending on the situation, you may even allow your children know that you are considering and weighing the options.
When someone with different values has an influence on your kids, knowing and practicing your own values helps you stand confidently on what you believe. Your kids will also appreciate the consistency and confidence. Just live your life according to what you hold to be important. Your children will see the differences and discover what is best and right for them.
Talk about Your Values
Talk to your kids about your values, but don’t talk negatively about the other parent’s values. There’s an art to this kind of discussion. You’ll need to keep it positive and focused on your values and what you hold to be important – in other words, you’ll need to talk your values up without talking your ex-partner’s down. Then trust your kids to make connections. They will begin to form their own value systems as they grow up, and they will make the connection between what they believe to be right and other view points.
Remember, your children will be exposed to many values so don’t let the value differences become a contest between you and the other parent. This will make things much harder for your child.
If your kids come home from the other parent’s house and talk about something that goes against your values, you can respectfully voice your different idea without being disrespectful to the other parent. You could say something like, “There are several ways to handle that. What do you think you would have done?” This gets the kids thinking, and includes them in the discussion without demonizing the other parent. Now, you might say, “I think I would have done it a little differently.” Then go on to discuss several other options.
Identify What’s Important
It’s a good idea to keep a healthy perspective here. When it comes to values, what you hold dear may not really be a crucial matter. For example, it may stress you out that your ex-partner has a messy house or apartment. As long as it’s not unhealthy, it’s probably not worth stressing or arguing over. Think core values and let the small stuff go. You must pick your battles.
Just because your values or beliefs are different, it doesn’t mean that one parent should back away! Your children need both of you. It would be best if both of you work together; but, until both parents are able to reach that point, these strategies and tips will help you smooth over the tense or confusing parts for your children.