The Cooperative Parenting Institute designs material for divorcing parents. The following two exercises are taken from their workbook “Cooperative Parenting and Divorce: A Parent Guide to Effective Co-Parenting.”
Love Isn’t Easy . . . How Far Will You Go?
Directions: Slowly read each question asking yourself, “How far will I go?” Answer honestly. You will notice that the first five questions present easier decisions because they indicate eminent physical danger while the last five present emotional danger. Are you willing to risk placing your child in danger of any kind?
- Would you jump into an ice-cold stream to save your child from drowning?
- Would you give up one of your kidneys if it would save your child’s life?
- Would you sell all your worldly possessions for costly life-saving surgery for your child?
- Would you change your diet if your child’s doctor diagnosed your child with diabetes?
- Would you give up smoking if your child had a high risk of lung disease or asthma?
- Would you forgive your child’s other parent to help your child develop a healthy self-esteem?
- Would you let go of the past to give your child a positive future?
- Would you let go of bitterness/anger if your child developed anxiety symptoms?
- Would you use impulse control if it would teach your child to think before he acted?
- Would you give up being right so your child wouldn’t feel caught in the middle?
Directions: Post these rules on your refrigerator as a reminder of your commitment to care. Ask your child to let you know if you forget one of the rules. Never reprimand your child when he or she gives you this feedback.
Dear Mom and Dad, I’m just a kid, so please . . .
- Do not talk badly about my other parent. (This makes me feel torn apart! It also makes me feel bad about myself!)
- Do not talk badly about my other parent’s friends or relatives. (Let me care for someone even if you don’t.)
- Do not talk about the “divorce” or other grown up stuff. (This makes me feel sick. Please leave me out of it!)
- Do not talk about child support. (This makes me feel guilty or like I’m a possession instead of your kid.)
- Do not make me feel bad when I enjoy my time with my other parent. (This makes me afraid to tell you things.)
- Do not block my visits or prevent me from speaking to my other parent on the phone. (This makes me very upset.)
- Do not interrupt my time with my parent by calling too much or by planning activities during our time together.
- Do not argue in front of me or on the phone when I can hear you! (This just turns my stomach inside out!)
- Do not ask me to spy for you when I am at my other parent’s home. (This makes me feel disloyal and dishonest!)
- Do not ask me to keep secrets from my other parent. (Secrets make me feel anxious!)
- Do not ask me questions about my other parent’s life or about our time together. (This makes me uncomfortable. So just let me tell you.)
- Do not give me verbal messages to deliver to my other parent. (I end up feeling real anxious about their reaction. So please just call them, leave them a message at work or put a note into the mail.)
- Do not send written messages with me or place them into my bag. (This also makes me uncomfortable.)
- Do not blame my other parent for the divorce or for things that go wrong in your life. (This really feels terrible! I end up wanting to defend them from your attack. Sometimes it makes me feel sorry for you and that makes me want to protect you. I just want to be a kid, so please, please . . . stop putting me into the middle!)
- Do let me take items to my other home as long as I can carry them back and forth. (Otherwise it feels like you are treating me like a possession.)
- Do realize that I have two homes not just one. (It doesn’t matter how much time I spend there.)
- Do not treat me like an adult, it causes way too much stress for me. (Please find a friend or therapist to talk with.)
- Do not ignore my other parent or sit on opposite sides of the room during my school or sports activities. (This makes me very sad. Please act like parents and be friendly, even if it is just for me.)
- Do not use guilt to pressure me to love you more, and do not ask me where I want to live.
- Do let me love both of you and see each of you as much as possible! Be flexible even when it is not part of our regular schedule.
Thanks, your loving child