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Shameless Co-parenting Through the Holidays!

The holiday season is a time for individuals to bond with loved ones, share feelings of gratitude and reconnect with those who matter most. As a new coparenting mom, this time can be filled with logistical planning and coordination of time and activities. Some might ask, "how is the holiday season SUPPOSED to look for my family as a coparent?" Great question! The answer is, it's totally up to you. During this time you can be torn between what's right for you and what's best for your child(ren). But, decision-making in the best interest of the child(ren) is going to be key.

But wait, I'd like to take this topic a step further in a different direction; for the co-parenting mom who's actually doing OK. You're no longer confused about your role in parenting. You've actually overcome your feelings of sadness, anger or frustration about the new normal your life has come to be. And you've actually come to accept and appreciate some of the positives you've newly acquired in your shared scheduling, like personal time!

So now, actually, the new issues for you these days, especially during the holiday season, is not old disappointment of sharing time with your co-parent. It's actually the shaming behaviors of those closest to you about your decision-making. What I mean by this is, there may be individuals in your life who have longstanding opinions based on older negative thoughts and experiences that influence what they think your co-parenting should look like at any given time:

  • Did he just call you?...Well make sure you let him have a piece of your mind!
  • Did he ask for extra time with your child/baby?...Well I wouldn't do him any favors!...Remember how you felt 2 years ago!!!

Sound familiar???

Now the holidays are here again. You're in a space to make more child-centered, compromising, and agreeable decisions; but your loved ones don't understand or share that perspective. And what happens next is what I would describe as, unconscious shaming, of the co-parenting mom for choosing to be reasonable and simply OK. This becomes problematic because she is then forced to decide between her emotional growth and the external factors that encourage regressive feelings or behaviors. 

Sometimes, what is happening is, although YOU have done the mental/emotional work and put in the time to heal from a previous negative relationship experience, your loved ones haven't done that same work. So, how do you manage this dynamic? Well, it's easier said than done. But, you're going to want to follow these 4 steps to manage the unconscious shaming you may encounter:

  1. Be clear on what YOUR current feelings and perspectives are about your own situation. Know how you feel and be confident in what it took for you to get to that place
  2. Rationally detach your feelings from the opposing response of the loved ones. This will help to avoid creating additional conflict (i.e. don't take it personally);
  3. Be patient and compassionate with your loved ones. They may still be grieving or adjusting to how your life changes may have emotionally impacted them. You may even opt to talk about those feelings they have... if you feel ready/strong enough to manage your own feelings during that dialogue;
  4. Be lovingly assertive about your decisions when they are met by an opposing view point. Stand your ground and follow through on your decisions made, but in a kind way. This shows your certainty and provides physical evidence of your emotional stability... and models that desired behavior for others. 

Generally speaking, family members and loved ones tend to want what's best for you. These four steps can be a guide to managing those unpleasant family conversations about co-parenting during the holiday season. With that being said, it's important to assume positive intention when you are faced with unconscious shaming by those who love you. Then use that positive outlook to navigate the holidays with a smile on your face and healthy co-parenting in place.