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Co-parenting Fear: Am I screwing up my kid?

If you are asking yourself this question, you’re probably doing better than you think. We parents are constantly under pressure to “successfully” raise our kids.
(3 min 10 sec read)

Dave Chartier
A single co-parenting dad, a freelance writer and former syndicated dad blogger with work published in USA Today, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

If you are honestly asking yourself this question, chances are you’re probably doing better than you think. If you’re asking this question, you understand that there is value gained by a moment of self-reflection and the importance to question a process in motion.

Let’s open the hood on this topic and talk about the kinds of things that categorically screw up your kids. We parents are constantly under pressure to “successfully” raise our children and everyone seems to have the ‘keys to success’ whether it is sly marketers selling us the “what (they think) we need” or “what the (current) keys to success may be”. As co-parents not under the same roof, it’s even harder!

Not Embracing Failure.

First of all, Tiger Moms and Helicopter Dads, stand down. Your kid falls ten times a day, gets up and carries on. They will mess up on their spelling test. Fall off of their bike. Their soccer team loses (again). This is all good hard-knock life lessons. Teach them to find their errors, and learn from them. Praise effort, not results. Teach them grit.

Not Listening to Them

It’s easy to lecture, it is hard to listen. Be in the moment and let them develop their thoughts and their voice. Let them be heard. Guide them. Ask them questions. If you want to raise kids who know how to listen…. Start by listening to them.

Not Help Them Build Lasting Relationships.

We, as co-parents, may be inclined to assume kids will build their social skills on the schoolyard during recess. But there are many ways we can encourage our kids the positive impact of doing small acts of kindness, build their ability to empathize and help them foster relationships.

As a co-parenting father of three boys, I have an ongoing dialogue with them about friendship building and being open to the various degrees of friendship, understanding kids are developing at a fast rate and that affects friendships for better and for worse and rolling with the punches and that leaving yourself open to friendships is the best thing.

Not Weighing the Importance of Happiness, Optimism, and Overall Emotional Intelligence.

Optimism and happiness go hand in hand. The idea of optimism is of course routed in finding positive outcomes in a variety of situations that life can throw at you. The idea of an optimistic and happy life is a pathway you can choose and model which is a profoundly powerful thing considering there are studies that show optimistic people have a lower likelihood of anxiety and depression.

This is a reflective exercise, as well. To raise optimistic and emotional intelligent kids start by looking in the mirror. When was the last time you had a good belly laugh, Dad?

There is something to be said for talking kids through teaching (emotional) moments. A simple first step here is to “Empathize, Label and Validate” when they’re struggling with anger or frustration. For me, this usually involves frequent ‘moments’ in traffic. I am quick to point out when I get cut-off in traffic with a car full of kids how that move made me ‘angry’, but I don’t take it personally, I don’t know what kind of day they’re having. They could be having the worst day of their life ~at least I convince myself of that so I can make it home without pulling my hair out.

At the end of the day, if you are still questioning your parenting decisions pull together your tribe of dads/parents for a gut check. You can also connect with a therapist to work through the history and details to make sense of it all. Or, if you have the coParenter app, you can always tap on ‘GetHelp’ and an on-demand co-parenting professional will help you with one on one coaching.

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