Many believe that the most important part of being a parent is building strong relationships with your children. Yes this is important, however, we sometimes forget the relationship that we share with each other as parents. As we know, maintaining relationships are hard, but they are even harder when you are parenting your children. This is where most of the arguments begin! It doesn’t matter if you are romantically in a relationship with the other parent or parenting apart, the arguments and fighting are the same when it comes to the children.
Why is it SO hard??
This question is asked by many people, including myself. I used to feel that fighting in the name of my children was what parents were supposed to do. It proved our love! So all I did was fight! But it didn’t seem like it was for love. I was fighting to be right, fighting to be heard and fighting to be in control. This became an exhausting battle that both of us did not want to participate in any longer. It wasn’t helping our relationship, nor was it benefiting the children.
Change was needed…
You are going to have disagreements as parents, even if you are in a romantic relationship with your partner or co-parenting. This is natural. Everyone will have their own opinion on what is right and what is wrong. But fighting fairly will help you build your communication and relationship to be the best parents to your children.
Here are the top 5 ways to fight fairly
- Respect yourself
This means don’t put yourself in a position that you may not like yourself after a big argument or fight. Always hold yourself to a high standard and be cautious of the messages you are sending out because you aren’t able to get those messages back when they are said. For example, understand your own morals, values and beliefs and uphold those values not only when you are in a good space but when you are in a bad space as well.
- Respect the relationship
If you are in a romantic or co-parenting relationship, understand that you both play a huge role in your children’s lives. Decide what the relationship will be and go from there. If you are a co-parenting relationship it’s establishing that the children come first, not the feelings you had about the broken past relationship you once had. Verbalize this and respect those boundaries. In a romantic relationship, it’s establishing that you are putting your love for each other first and work through that love. Respecting whatever the relationship is a step in the direction of positive communication.
- Establish Rules
The best way for any relationship to work is to establish rules. These rules are to focus on keeping any conversation safe. So when the conversation is going left when you need it to go right, you can remind each other about the rules that you both have worked out together. This is important so that you are not saying things to hurt each other. Rules are different for every relationships but ones that work for many is to choose a word that can be said when both are getting angry. So if the word is said, the rule is that you both are to walk away until your emotions are under control to continue the discussion.
- Have Consequences
This may sound crazy, but yes have consequences when someone is not following the rules that you both have established. Just make sure the consequences have nothing to do with seeing the kids, if you are living apart. Consequences can look like, doing carpool or taking the kids to the park when it’s not their day, be creative especially if you are not together romantically. If you are together romantically, being creative can be a little easier because you live together. However, for any of this to work, you have to follow through with the consequences that you both agree upon.
- Stay in the Present, not in the past
This important!!! Don’t keep bringing up things that happened in the past! It’s doesn’t matter if you are together or not, bringing up the past only leave the door open to more arguments. You can agree to disagree and move on. But bringing up an old argument only makes it harder to communicate with each other.
Use the tools…
Take that first step in communicating as parents, together or not. Using these tips and tools will make sure you are standing on solid foundation, to build a relationship with each other and your children. For more tips on communication email firstname.lastname@example.org to book some time!