"Co-parenting is well-documented to be an effective strategy in nurturing effective growth for children of divorce, giving them an opportunity to adjust to their new life situation."
The right to parent one’s children is not the same as wanting to be a role model in your child’s life. In the minds of children, their parents tend to be their champion, haven, and safety net during the most difficult of situation. To want to guide and teach a child is to want to be that champion, haven, teacher, and safety net, regardless of skill level or capability. Being a role model is another story entirely.
Being a role model involves outside action that a parent has to respond to, and the parents’ response is what the child wishes to emulate. This cycle of action comes with parents spending time in their child’s life, and it encourages continuous action. To teach children means you have to be there to be the role model that you want to be.
Being a role model is an idea that has captured the attention of society for decades. For years, people have looked toward actors, sports figures, politicians, and other celebrities as people to emulate for the way they act and react to situations. We, as adults, act similarly to that of children, in that, they seek to emulate parents as role models of who they should be and how they should behave.
The need to emulate celebrity behavior can be a divisive idea. There are some that view celebrity as synonymous with disillusion and do not find the idea of emulating one to be at all appealing. There are some that find it to be an ideal way of living your life.
Then, there are celebrities that wish to contribute to your experience.
In a recent interview with InStyle Magazine, Gwyneth Paltrow discusses her divorce with Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin. She has maintained since the split that Chris and she “… have contributed something positive to the culture of divorce.”
She goes on to talk about how despite the divorce, the two have remained very close. She says:
“He’s at my house every single day. We have our own lives, but we still have our family life. To this day, Chris would take a bullet for me, even though I’m not his wife.”
According the reports, the break-up sparked a discussion regarding the concept of “conscious uncoupling,” which entails a conscious acknowledgement that while two spouses love each other and will continue to co-parent their children, as two separated individuals.
Conceptually, this is an idealistic model that many co-parents who have gone through a divorce and have stayed on communicative and civil terms would like to adapt, but to say that this is recent trend is ignoring the co-parenting of children for decades. Co-parenting is well-documented to be an effective strategy in nurturing effective growth for children of divorce, giving them an opportunity to adjust to their new life situation.
Keeping the concept of co-parenting and its importance in the spotlight is important. It encourages ex-spouses and co-parents to put aside their differences for the well-being of the children caught in the crossfire of their situation. It also shifts the focus from one’s personal well-being, to the well-being of the child.
The idea that this is an evolved concept downplays the struggles and trials of co-parents and ex-spouses who have been forced to live with awkward and uncomfortable interactions with one another since the concept of divorce was introduced. Custody schedules, visitation, holidays, special events, and so many more instances all create a need for civility for the sake of the children, and the notion that “conscious uncoupling” and co-parenting were added into the lexicon by one break-up downplays the grace and strength it takes to be kind to one another, regardless of past personal histories of the ex-spouses and of the children.
There are many situations where one ex-spouse does not wish to acknowledge the other for their own reasons, and that’s not fair to the children stuck in the middle. As much as you may dislike your ex-spouse now, he or she still is the parent of your child or children, and they love and care about them.
To maintain a healthy, communicative and polite relationship with an ex-spouse also is not a new concept. Given that custody schedules and visitation requires some form of interaction with a co-parent, getting along tends to be a more effective form of communication. Furthermore, it teaches the children the children so many lessons about interacting with others, forgiveness, and so many more useful concepts that one learns interacting with people during their lives.
No one is suggesting forgiveness in any portion of the interaction, but if one willingly chooses that path and feels ready for it, it continues to set an example for a child, being the role model that they need.
You, as a parent, did not set out to be divorced and forced to co-parent with a significant other who has their own feelings about you, but this is the situation. Being the role model your children need is more important than any ideal concept of what you wish your situation was. Being a role model is what they, as your children, rely on, and it is what you, as a parent, need to be for them.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.