Two in one day – I must be on a roll! Actually, I’ve been thinking about this post for several days. It’s time to send it out there.
As a parent and family coach, it is seductive to think that I’ve got it all under control when it comes to my parenting, my kids, my family situation. Far from it! Just as doctors occasionally get sick themselves, so too do coaches get in a rut or face some situation that just defies resolution. I am currently facing just such a situation.
I have a co-parenting situation with my children’s father. For the last 6 1/2 years my boys have moved week to week from parent to parent. This has worked well and I still firmly believe that they need the regular and extended contact with their father, so I support this kind of arrangement. Most people believe that this can only work if the parents are civil to one another, hopefully cordial. In my situation, this is not the case and yet we continue to try to make this work. It is a challenge unlike any I have ever experienced and there is no end in sight to the continual hostility and conflict.
In fact, my eldest child has “up’d the ante” so to speak because ,as a 12 yr old boy, he is cleaving towards his father more than ever. This past week, he left my house 3 days early to stay with his dad. Add to this his recent desire to believe everything his father says (and not listen to me at all) my heart was aching and my fearful side was in full overdrive. My son had told his father that he was unhappy here with me — ouch. I have endeavoured his whole life to create an atmosphere where my children could share their thoughts and feelings with me. It’s what I’m all about and to hear that my son was unhappy and I didn’t know it really struck at the heart of my parenting. If I let myself think about it, about losing him, about him being more like his father or wanting to live with him permanently, I can end up in a state of paralysis and/or a torrent of tears.
I tried to step outside of my parental fear and coach myself, but found that very hard. When we are deeply involved or attached to a situation it is often difficult, or impossible, to stand back and view it with objective eyes. Thanks to my informal coaches in my life, I have tried to separate my motherly instinct from some rational thought. I realise that at 12, most kids want some independence and my son is no different. And, in the present moment it’s no big deal – after all, it was just a few extra days at his father’s.
So my solution, after gathering advice, is to do nothing. This is a Buddhist principle that has come up again and again in my life when things are chaotic all around me and feel as if they are falling apart. Do nothing. Sit. Be still and wait for the junk to settle to the bottom and then get some clarity.