There are several times a year that I think it is important for me to bring attention to my four formula parts for reaching a goal of respectful and responsible co-parenting. The end of the school year of one of those times.

It is at the end of the school year that for most separated or divorced couples, a summer possession schedule begins.

It is also a time of year that family vacation plans are being made. While you are making plans for your summer possession schedule, does any of the planning include considerations about the other parent? It is OK if the answer is no, but if you are co-parenting in a way that is less than respectful and responsible, then the goal would be for you to at some point be able to change the answer to that question to a yes.

Applying the four formula parts in your co-parenting could help with that. My four formula parts:

1. Make a choice every day to co-parent respectfully and responsibly. This one is really that simple. It is all about choices and if you are the one creating conflict in your co-parenting, make a choice to stop that.

2. Set aside your differences to do that. At the onset of separation or divorce, there is a lot of anger and emotion attached to the circumstances surrounding the decision to no longer be together. For a respectful and responsible co-parenting experience for the children, applying this formula part really is a must.

3. Always do the right thing, even if your ex isn’t. It is just the right thing to do, for the children.

Here is a message I received recently from a coaching client, who is applying this formula part to her less than respectful and responsible co-parenting. “I’m angry and I’m allowing myself to feel angry, but I feel so empowered to not react in that anger. It’s not right and it’s not fair, but I have peace. He’s negating on our agreement, but I still want to be a woman of my word and choose to do the right thing, even if my ex isn’t. I have you to thank for that. Your. teaching and training have helped me more than you know Kari.”

This is really helpful because I think so many co-parents can relate. So much of what goes wrong in co-parenting is due to an anger, an emotion driven reaction and response, whether through phone calls, texts, emails or in person.

It is very difficult to rebound quickly if you are on the receiving end of the anger and emotion. It could take weeks, months or even longer sometimes for co-parents to hit the reset button on their co-parenting. The reason is because they need to then apply formula part number two, “set aside your differences” to be able to begin change.

4. Go for the Oscar. Put on an act if that is what it takes for you to co-parent in a respectful and responsible way. Put on an act to be able to apply the other formula parts to your co-parenting. This is for and about the children.

The co-parenting goal is to co-parent in a way that has the least amount of stress, tension and upset on the children. If your co-parenting is less than respectful and responsible, then the children are probably feeling those things. Apply formula part number one and make a choice to change that.

I hope you all have a great week.

KARI CLEMMER, a DeKalb High School graduate, is author and instructor of The Co-Parenting Workshop. She instructs co-parenting education and is a co-parenting coach in Dallas. Email with questions or comments.

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