Do we really need a book on co-parenting? The answer is a resounding “yes”!
First, a clarification. The Co-parenting handbook: Raising Well-Adjusted and Resilient Kids from Little Ones to Young Adults through Divorce or Separation makes reference to family. It asks the readers to keep in mind that there are variants, such as couples who may have never married, some who had a traditional marriage, and then those unable to legally wed. Whatever the personal details, when a couple has children, they are family.
I’ve been married 3 times. (No joke!)
My first husband and I had 2 sons. We were together for 16 years and married for 10 of them. When we separated and then divorced, I would have benefitted greatly from a handbook that coaches exes on how to still give parenting priority.
You’d think that after entering into 3 marriages and gaining 3 stepsons in the process, I’d have parenting figured out. Karen Bonnell and Kristin Little’s book outlines monumental issues such as what to tell your kids and how to behave in public, introduce new relationships, and plan for success in shared parenting.
One of the big lessons is the choice of respecting your ex-partner and letting the children see and feel that they are loved.
This book is also a great read if you want to understand better someone close to you who may be going through a family change.
A relationship can dissolve, but you will always be the parents
When you have a child together, you’re connected for life. Not for 18 years, but for life. This is what I learned from working in a lawyer’s office and watching couples fill banker’s boxes with papers that represented pain, cost, and the glaringly obvious issue that some people can’t get along for the sake of their children.
The Co-Parenting Handbook leaves no stone unturned when it comes to the proper steps in keeping conflict out of decisions. It’s a nearly business-like piece of writing that covers the journey of separation and possible divorce.
I’ve witnessed many custody battles in my current job in police department records. Lack of communication causes more pain—and often fear—in the other parent and affects the kids who are caught in the middle. Working toward the betterment of the children’s upbringing, this book serves as a catalyst for a cohesive parenting agreement.
This manual provides excellent guidance to:
- Keeping the children’s needs top of mind
- Reducing conflict and solving problems collaboratively
- Discussing money matters
- Considering the best communication methods
- Managing separate home schedules
- Protecting the kids from conflict
- Having compassion–all the way around
Imagine a future where stepping up and accepting a new path is an agreed-upon plan. Picture the calm that comes from respecting feelings while working to be allies instead of enemies.
Workable strategies for the two-home family
How will you handle the first birthday after the family is no longer under one roof? How will the holidays be shared going forward? Graduations, special events, and maybe even your children’s weddings are all things you should consider for the long haul, not just on a week-by-week basis.
The first year apart for my ex and me was a tough time of testing each other, working on a plan, and being the main decision-makers. Grandparents and other relatives may mean well with all of their opinions and ideas, but The Co-parenting handbook guides you on how to stay the course with the plan that is right for your new normal of raising shared children.
This manual is designed to:
- Implement workable strategies for success with a two-home family
- Offer guidance on making sure the children feel safe and loved
- Teach you to work through feelings while building respect for one another
- Help you rebuild the family unit with tools for maintaining communication and cooperation
Conflict keeps us connected
How do we work through hate, remorse, jealousy, and rage while building a sunshine-and-rainbow kind of life for our offspring? Bonnell and Little answer that by acknowledging how hateful feelings and conflict actually connect and involve us with another person and open the door for more constructive responses. Change in family, identity, roles, and security is considered crisis of change. Dealing with loss and change comes with opportunities, renewal, and even strength.
The more equipped you are to work with and understand your own emotional experience, the more capable you’ll be of working with and helping your children to understand theirs.
The Co-Parenting Handbook conveys the message that our children look to us to learn, thrive, and extract meaning from what’s happening in the family. The book advises you to choose not to be trapped in negativity and resentment but consciously embrace a positive direction for everyone involved.
Co-parenting books that take the stress out of life will include high-value content such as:
- Separating spouse-mind from parent-mind
- Teaching values without damaging your child’s relationship with their other parent
- Noticing and heading off the triggers and moods that are bound to occur
- Communicating for the mental health of the families
- Deciding what to tell neighbors and friends (the separation story)
Will forgiveness ever come?
Acceptance, apology, communication, and healing are the keys to going forward in a healthy manner. When the adults are open to admitting shortcomings, there is less blame and conflict. The children watch our every move and hear more conversations than we could ever imagine.
Can we forgive the other person while accepting failure and loss? Can we forgive ourselves first and work through the pain? The authors of The Co-Parenting Handbook say forgiveness is possible when we can take the energy of looking back and wishing the past could be different and turn it to looking forward and creating a meaningful future.
Goals for the new co-parents
When my first husband and I divorced, our sons were toddlers. The first few months were full of fear and fights to ensure we had equal time with the boys. Looking back, I know it was our strong love for the children that made us behave in a less-than-classy manner. Once we had in place a system to share responsibilities and time with our sons, we found understanding. We didn’t put the other parent down before the children. We had to learn to push away friends or families who “meant well” but were actually toxic. What we found was that we were good co-parents, but not a great couple. Two and a half decades later, we remain close friends who are in contact weekly even though our little dudes are giant adult men.
The Co-Parenting Handbook echoes much of what I lived through and had to take the time to process and understand. This book will get you to the end result faster. Ensuring the children feel loved, not just hear that they are loved. Do the children feel heard and supported? Are they able to continue with academic activities and sports?
We all want to be the village that makes sure our children are strong, clear-thinking, capable, and responsible. Making a difference in the world starts with our own behavior and taking responsibility for bringing them into this world and granting them a childhood of sweet memories, not of conflict or pain.
My second marriage lasted 10 years, and we didn’t have children. We get along fine post-divorce, and he’s now happily remarried with 2 stepchildren. My third marriage in 2013 brought me my 3 bonus sons. Our 5 shared sons are between 21 and 25 years old. Our home houses lots of testosterone and, luckily, lots of hugs and humor.
Children and parents build a family story
Are we providing positive interpretations and messages of resilience? Are we encouraging healthy development and normal challenges?
We are responsible for keeping fear at bay and letting our kids know (and feel) that they’re loved and important. Raising well-adjusted children in a two-family home is possible. The balance of nurture and discipline is achieved through love.
The Co-Parenting Handbook
- Making your kids feel loved through a divorce is important.
- Co-parenting is a lifelong commitment.
- Choosing to respect your ex is necessary.
You need this if...
- You're going through a divorce.
- You and your co-parent are developing a plan for sharing custody.
- You believe your kids' needs should guide you in a breakup.