We all know of the phrase, “happy wife, happy life.” This is also true – “happy coParent, happy child.” It is fairly simple to attain this state.

Life involves decisions about meeting needs and wants. Wants tend to be reflexive desires based on emotion. We can perceive what we want to do in the passion of the moment. Needs, on the other hand, are the underlying essentials required to keep us comfortable and secure.

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American psychologist Abraham Maslow described basic human needs as a pyramid with a base of fundamental needs required for survival building to needs that enrich our lives. This pyramid includes: self-esteem and self-confidence; belonging/love connections to family and friends; safety needs (personal and financial security); physical needs (food, water, shelter). Our wants are the expressed emotional response to a desire to fulfill unexpressed basic human needs. By becoming aware of the emotions connected to our “wants” and identifying the underlying needs, we can work more effectively to satisfy them. Instead of reacting based on our wants, a self-centered coParent digs below the surface to satisfy the real needs. When basic human needs are satisfied, a self-centered coParent makes the fullest use of their capacity to become a great parent to the child.

It is important to engage in self-care in order to do the best for your child. For example, if you and your child were on a high-flying aircraft that suddenly lost pressure, would you first put the air masks that drop from the ceiling on yourself or on your child?  On an emotional level you would feel compelled to see to your child first. In reality, if a parent does not remain conscious, the parent cannot care for the child. That is why airline attendants direct adult passengers to put their masks on first, and then place the mask on their children. A self-centered coParent engages in self-care in order recharge and to fill the needs of the child. Commit to reclaiming control over your sense of self in order to feel empowered and confident.

Keep your aspirations reasonable. If the only thing that is going to make you happy is something impossible or impractical to achieve, you are measuring your efforts against a goal that is not achievable. It’s a failure before you even start.  Goals should be realistic and achievable so they you can experience the exhilaration of working up to your potential. Your goals should be defined so that you are motivated to lean in and do the work required to meet them.


About Kathleen Bird

Kathleen Bird, JD is a mediator, parent educator, former judge, and family lawyer. Her book, Self-Centered Co-Parenting, is the result of her experience working with thousands of frustrated parents to find a self-empowering method for quality parenting and decision-making.