Being On the Same Page (Part 2)

Being On the Same Page (Part 2)

May 01, 2024

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In last week’s episode, we talked about what it means to be on the same page as your coparent, particularly when it comes to self-regulation and connection with your kids. Today, we’re focusing on being on the same page with limits and consequences. 

Our goal with a feelings-first parenting model is to hold our kids accountable in a calm, mutually respectful way. We want to help them to regulate their emotions and take responsibility for their actions without lashing out, hurting or shaming our kids.

But what can you do when you and your coparent don’t handle limits and consequences the same way?

 

3 Types of Coparenting

You and your coparent will fall into one of three scenarios. Based on your situation, there are different conversations, approaches and tools you can use to guide your parenting. 

 

Scenario #1: Two people who live together and have a mutual commitment to calm and conscious parenting

Once you’ve determined that you’re on the same page with your parenting values, goals and approach, you also have to figure out how you’ll stay on the same page. 

 

Getting on the same page. The first step here is talking about your values as parents, which you can learn more about in last week’s episode. Next, talk about what happens if you notice that your kids are off track, especially if you find yourself arguing about the behavior.

When you notice off track behavior, have a connection conversation about the pattern that you’ve seen. It’s really important that neither of you are judging or getting defensive in this conversation. Lean into curiosity - What do you think is going on? Why do you think they’re acting this way? What’s happening underneath? What do they need?

You might realize that this is more of an emotional issue. Maybe your child needs some more skills around managing their feelings or there is an emotional need that isn’t being met. A lot of times if you meet the emotional need of a behavior, you can kind of the behavior lessens. You might also find that you need to set a limit around the behavior. 

 

Staying on the same page. What will you do when your coparent gets off track? I recommend that, as long as the coparent isn't being explosive or hurtful, you let it play out. Be a compassionate witness, notice what’s going on with your coparent and with your kid and get curious about why. 

Then, later on when everyone is calm, talk to your coparent about what happened. Again, you aren’t bringing it up to criticize or blame. The goal is to evaluate, problem solve and troubleshoot. Go through the steps of the Calm Mama Process (Calm, Connect, Limit Set, Correct) and pinpoint where the issue was and how you can solve for it. 

These conversations are what help you do the fine-tuning to move you closer to your parenting goal of raising emotionally healthy, personally responsible kids. 

 

Scenario #2: Two people who live together and have different parenting approaches

Your coparent may not be on board. In this case, it’s important to remember that each person is in an individual relationship with another person. Your relationship with your kid might be very different from the relationship they have with their other parent. 

Ultimately, we all want to have a good relationship with our kids. We want our kids to grow up and like us. Strict, firm, authoritarian parenting (the way most of us were raised) tends to lead to emotional disconnection. The child grows up feeling like their parent cares more about what they do than who they are

Start by asking your coparent, “What do you want your future relationship with our kid to look like?” It’s a good way to get them thinking and open up conversation about connection. 

It’s also possible that you won’t come to an agreement on this. And that’s on them. They get to make a choice about how they interact and the relationship they’re creating. 

If you’re not on the same page with the parenting approach, and you’re each doing your own thing, then you each have to take responsibility for the way you want to parent, and follow through on it. 

It doesn’t mean that your kid is messed up forever. You can still emotionally coach them, set limits, follow through on consequences and teach them how to be in a connection relationship with you. 

 

Scenario #3: Two or more people who don’t live together but have kids in common

In this scenario, you may or may not be on the same page with parenting values and approach. And when it comes down to it, you don’t have control over what’s happening when your kid is at their other parent’s house. It might be really hard, but it’s okay.  

You get to choose the way you interact and your relationship with your kid, and so do they. It only takes one person to teach them the skills for emotional health. 

 

Being On the Same Page with Limits & Consequences

A common situation I see come up is when one parent is being harsh or punitive with consequences and expecting the other parent to follow through on them. 

For example, your coparent says, “If you don’t listen to Mommy, you can’t watch TV all week,” but you’re the one who’s home in the afternoon and has the kids watch TV so you can cook dinner. 

You don’t want there to be no follow-through at all, because the kids will see that there is no consequence to the behavior, and you don’t want to have to change your plans or rhythm for something your coparent said. 

This can be hard, but you need to communicate clearly with your coparent that if they set a limit and consequence that the follow-through is on them. 

It’s okay for you to let your coparent know that you’re not on board. It might sound like, “It is okay for you to set up consequences in this family that you can follow through on. It's not okay for you to set consequences that I then have to follow through on. That doesn't work for me. I don't agree with this consequence. I don't agree with how you handled it, and I'm not going to follow-up on it. You need to find a consequence that you can enforce when you're around.”

When you’re on different pages, make a plan privately of how you’re going to work through it. You still want to present an aligned approach to the kids. No pitting one parent against the other. 

 

Whatever parenting scenario you fall into, I want to normalize for you that not every moment with your coparent will feel good. They’ll get off track sometimes, and so will you. 

You don’t have to have a million conversations, but make it intentional when you do. When something doesn’t feel right, sit with it, think about it and bring it up in a really focused, specific way.

Ultimately, we all have agency in how we parent our kids. Each parent gets to choose how they behave with their kid. Each parent can set boundaries and limits the way they want to, but the follow-through is also on them. Each parent has to take responsibility for how they parent and the relationship they create with their child.

You can commit to emotionally coaching your kid, giving them tools to manage their emotions in healthy ways, setting boundaries and following through without shame. Your coparent does not need to make the same commitments for it to work. 

When you keep your commitments, your kid benefits. You’re moving forward, even if your coparent isn’t on the same page. So trust yourself, trust your kid, and keep going. 

 

You’ll Learn:

  • Why learning to regulate your emotions is like learning to read and write
  • 3 coparenting scenarios and how to navigate them
  • What to do when you’re not on board with your coparent’s limits & consequences
  • The good news about your relationship with your kid

 

Previous Episodes:

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