Being On the Same Page

Being On the Same Page

Apr 24, 2024

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I’m often asked, “How do you handle it when your husband or your coparent isn't on board?” or, “How do you handle it when you're divorced and you don't know what's going on with the other parent?”

In this first episode of a two-part series, I’ll start answering these questions and share some essential conversations to have with your coparent.


The Real Question

The real question at the root of these concerns is, “Is my kid going to be okay if my coparent doesn’t practice compassionate parenting?”

There is fear of what will happen in the future if your coparent is harsh, too permissive or just on a different page when it comes to parenting your kid. 

But what does it really mean to be okay? The way I think about this in my programs is that we are setting our kids up for success by teaching emotional literacy - knowing what they’re feeling, how to talk about it and what to do with it. 

This is the key to raising kids that are confident, self-aware and love themselves. 

No matter what happens in your child's life, there's going to be pain and struggle. Things won’t always go their way. 

In the long-term, when they know how to process that pain, they can handle anything. You’re giving your kid the resilience that they need for the future. 


Being On the Same Page

For our purposes, being on the same page means two things:  

  1. You and your coparent agree on the same parenting philosophy. In this case, that means agreeing that compassion and helping your child process negative emotion are important to you. 
  2. You share the same approach to the philosophy. You’re using the same strategies and tools. 

For example, compassionate parenting is a philosophy. The Calm Mama Process of calm, connect, limit set, correct is the approach. 

A beautiful place to start is by asking your coparent (whether you live with them or not) what they value when it comes to parenting. 

You can start the conversation by saying something like, “I'm learning a lot, and I want to make sure that you're on the same page with me. I believe that feelings matter and that it's important for our kids to have a safe place to express those feelings and learn how to deal with them. Do agree?”


When You Aren’t On the Same Page

I know that you want to have a good relationship with your child, and you want them to have a good relationship with themselves and with the world. You get to decide how you show up. You can put in the work to make sure your relationship is connected and loving. 

Your coparent also has a relationship with your kid, and it’s their job to decide how they want that relationship to play out and take action to create the relationship they want. 

It is not your responsibility to preserve your child’s relationship with their other parent. Ultimately, your responsibility is only to the emotional health of your child. 

If you’re struggling with your coparent, look at where the disagreement is. Is it about the philosophy or the approach?

Maybe you agree on the philosophy, but your coparent struggles to manage their stress and calm themselves. Or they’re avoiding following through on consequences. When you understand where the disconnect is, it is easier to problem solve. 


Dealing With an Explosive Parent

If your coparent is dysregulated and not calm, it might look like being explosive, needlessly critical, aggressive, insulting or using shame for discipline. They might shut down or walk away in steely silence. 

This parent is probably overwhelmed and stressed. They’re in their own ego or fear. Maybe they’re scared that their kid is getting away with something or being disrespectful. 

I want you to recognize that this parent is dysregulated. It's not that they're a jerk or they don't care. And you won’t be able to support them if you’re coming from a place of judgment and criticism. Compassion for your coparent will help your whole family. 

Your responsibility is not to try to change your coparent and their behavior. It is to emotionally coach your kid and help them process what’s going on. There are a few different ways you can do this.


Preventative Conversation. This conversation happens outside of an emotional moment. You’re discussing the pattern that you’ve been seeing and telling your coparent in advance how you will intervene if you see it in the future.

You might say something like, “Hey, I want to talk about this explosive behavior that you do. I understand you get overwhelmed, you get frustrated with the kids, you get angry with them. That makes perfect sense. I do it too. But my goal for this family is that everybody stays safe, and that includes emotionally safe. Dumping your big feelings or blaming the kids or being explosive with them doesn't work. So when I see you acting this way, I'm gonna intervene and ask you to take a break.”

If you have a good relationship with your coparent, you can even come up with a plan for letting each other know when you’re overwhelmed and need to tap out for a minute.


Intervention Conversation. These conversations happen when you are in the middle of an explosive incident. The goal with these interventions is harm reduction.

Option #1: Intervene with your coparent.  If they are having an explosive incident, like yelling, shaming, threatening, being physically aggressive, name calling, swearing, insulting your child, etc. I want you to confidently say, “Everyone stays safe here. Your behavior is not working. Please take a break.” 

Option #2: Intervene with the child(ren). If asking the other person to take a break will escalate the situation (or if they’re just not able to reset at that moment), you can move your child away. Say, “Daddy/Mommy/whoever is very upset right now. We're gonna let them have a break,” and move the kids into a different room. 


Resolution Conversation. Often, the reason events become traumatic is because the person experiencing it doesn’t ever process it with someone else. They personalize it and mull it over. There is no real resolution. 

In a resolution conversation, we separate the coparent’s actions from the child. We help the child understand that these behaviors that their parent did are about the parent, not the kid. 

Maybe your child acted poorly or made a mistake, but the parent’s reaction was about their feelings and not knowing how to handle them. 

Start by narrating what happened. Then, pick one emotion they might have been feeling. Say, “I wonder if you were feeling a little scared?” and give them time to respond. This gives them a place to dump some of those thoughts and feelings so that they don’t internalize it. 

If they don’t want to talk much, that’s okay. The goal is really to talk about this incident as a circumstance that they experienced and not let it get mixed up into “I’m a bad kid” type of thinking. 


Good News

Your child only needs one person in their life to help them learn emotional literacy and grow up to be emotionally healthy. 

When you’re coparenting alongside someone who is explosive, overly permissive, harsh or emotionally disconnected, it can be easy to look at how they’re acting and think, “they’re gonna mess up my kid.” 

But this thought only creates fear of the future and resentment toward your coparent. Instead, remember that they only need one person to help them understand their inner world. 

The parenting you're doing is not in vain because your co parent isn't on board. Your child's other parent isn't unraveling all of your hard work. What you are doing is not pointless. 

You are the only person that your child needs in order to become the human that they are meant to be. You are enough. What you're doing is enough. Keep at it. Your kid is going to be okay.


You’ll Learn:

  • Why I know your kid is going to be okay.
  • How to determine if you and your coparent are on the same page (and where to start if you’re not). 
  • Essential conversations for before, during and after explosive incidents - with scripts!
  • Using the “hard no” with other adults.

Ready to stop yelling?

Get the one simple tool you need to stop yelling at your kids, so you finally feel calmer and connect better. 

You'll learn why you yell, how to stop yourself yelling, 40 things to do instead and scripts for what to say to your kid when you yell.


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