Gwyneth Paltrow, left, and Chris Martin are seen at the 3rd Annual Sean Penn & Friends HELP HAITI HOME Gala on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff /Invision/AP)

The most successful co-parenting relationships I see are the ones where the co-parents can communicate effectively.

When I speak with my clients I encourage them to try and remember they are role models for their children and they are playing an enormous role in how their children develop as mature young adults, and adults.

How your kids adjust and respond to your separation will be affected by how you adjust and respond to your separation. Their response to the separation will be influenced by their ages and stages of development, level of maturity and their personality types – as well as whether they have a highly anxious personality type or one that is a little more cruisy and relaxed.

Below are my 5 tips for separating parents to consider in order to develop and/or maintain a successful co-parenting relationship:

1. Get professional therapeutic counseling.
Whether your separation is friendly or not, you’re about to go through a huge life-changing event that you perhaps did not predict and/or expect.

If you had communication difficulties during your relationship, they are unlikely to magically be different post-separation and speaking with a psychologist can help you find and develop different ways of communicating.

Your GP can create a mental health plan and write a referral to a psychologist, reducing the costs of your appointments under Medicare. Seeing a psychologist just means you recognize that you need help dealing with a situation at this point in your life – and if you do need some health related assistance, so what? Better to deal with it than let the situation develop into an emergency.
2. Understand your kids love you. Both of you. And they shouldn’t need to compromise or hide this love.

You are both parents 100% of the time – whether your children are with you or not. You both have ongoing responsibilities and obligations to ensure these little people you created together enjoy the benefit of both parents having a meaningful relationship with you both.

Revisit point 1 if you have difficulty with this and think that you might be struggling to separate your personal feelings for your former spouse from your obligations and responsibilities as a co-parent.

3. Parents have obligations and responsibilities. Kids have rights.
There is a common misconception that parents are the ones with rights. They aren’t. Under the Family Law Act, children have a right to know, be cared for and have a meaningful relationship with both parents where it is in their best interests and where there is no risk of harm to the children.

Neither of you have a greater “claim” to your children over the other, irrespective of what the arrangements were during your relationship – probably, one of you worked and the other stayed home with the kids. That was your agreed arrangement during your relationship.

It may help to consider your new co-parenting relationship as a business partnership, where you are in the business of raising your children together, but apart, so that your children grow up to be the respectful, mature, successful and balanced individuals you had hoped to raise.

A very wise, and well-respective Federal Circuit Court Judge’s response to “I will miss them too much when they are away from me” was “Don’t you think the other parent misses them too?”

If it’s a realistic and workable proposition for an equal-shared care arrangement to be implemented and it’s in the kids’ best interests, why should the kids spend more time with you than your former spouse?

4. Don’t involve your kids in adult issues.
Don’t ask your kids to be the messenger for adult issues. If you can’t communicate effectively with your former spouse, it’s your responsibility to develop different ways of communication.

Make a commitment to yourself and your kids that you’ll actively keep updated with what’s going on in the kids’ lives. Encourage your kids to tell the other parent what they’ve been up to during telephone calls, or let your former spouse know of any significant events or happenings in your kids’ lives. Remember – it’s for your kids benefit.

5. Be prepared to be flexible and review arrangements.
Remembering that this is about your kids, and what’s best for them, you need to be prepared to admit and discuss with your former spouse if something isn’t working.

Children’s needs will change as they get older. Yours might change too. You might change jobs, move house, repartner, separate, study. You might get sick and be unable to care for the kids in the same way you have been.

As parents, you need to be able to recognize what is, and isn’t working, and be prepared to negotiate changes with your former spouse. Don’t assume that your former spouse is proposing changes out of spite – assume that it’s in the best interests of your kids.
**My advice doesn’t relate to families where family or domestic violence or child abuse is present, or where the relationship between the parents is so dysfunctional that co-parenting is not possible.
Megan Sweetlove is a passionate family lawyer who makes divorce less scary by providing advice and support to separating families from all over Australia, helping them navigate a clear path through separation so they can move forward with their life with confidence.

When she’s not busy lawyering, Megan is a proud mum to three little people and enjoys learning about the world through their eyes, she otherwise enjoys sneaking off for a quiet bike ride through the Adelaide Hills or working hard on turning her thumb green in the overgrown garden.

For sensitive, professional and timely family law advice, you can reach Megan on (08) 8274 3848, at megan@sweetlovefamilylaw.com.au or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sweetlovefamilylaw

{image with thanks to here}

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Until recently I was always that mother who would hold everything in from the kids. I would cry to my husband on the phone after my fourth night of little sleep in the spare room whispering like my tears were a dirty secret. I would hyperventilate or get a headache trying to keep the sobs in so that they would be none wiser. I would wash my face, take a breath, walk out into the kitchen and pretend it was all okay.

I don’t know why I kept this side of myself a secret. The totally human one. I was honest with them about everything else and allowed them to be honest. And yet myself? Allow them to see that I was tired? Afraid and sad? Never. I would have rather eaten tripe after a cold swim in the artic sea.

And I yet remember the first time I cried in front of my kids- accidental of course. I had hidden in the pantry which is fine except that my pantry has glass doors, and I was ugly crying, so I was loud and somewhat scary looking. Unbeknownst to me my kids had seen and run to school telling anyone that listened mum was crying in the pantry on the phone to dad. Apparently, the teachers and other parents caught up in the drama dismissed this terrible news with that happens when mummies are tired. I never heard about it until the parent teacher interviews six weeks later where I laughed it off somewhat embarrassed that my kids had felt the need to tell everyone.

So I’m not sure what changed this year perhaps it was just time. Maybe I’m all grown up and can handle being completely honest or perhaps it’s because our family is transitioning to our next stage and they are old enough to be told. Whatever the reason it happened this day and it will be one of those moments that will be earmarked in my heart for the rest of my life. I was working fulltime, husbands swing had changed as well as dealing with other dynamics that life gives you I wasn’t coping. I was coping with all the emotional stuff going on which had a flow-on effect to my physical handling of things and if I’m honest it had been going on two years now but as we know I haven’t been all that honest that way.

So this day standing at the kitchen bench B1 was telling me about a lego set he was not asking but telling me but I took that as an ask. I took a deep breath to hold in the frustrated tears as I said to him I can’t do that bubby. I don’t have the means to get you there or give it to you. I am full to the brim. He looked at me, and I started to cry because I couldn’t hold back the frustration anymore. And I never meant to tell him everything, but it all blurted out along with I’m not happy anymore. When dad is not here I’m doing this all on my own, and I’m not handling things. I can’t do this for you without your help and still be okay. I vomited whole other bunch of truth I had been holding in, and I finished with I’m scared that this feeling will never go away.

At that moment I cursed myself because I worried had I said too much. Been too honest when they hadn’t asked for it because the last thing I want is my children to carry my burdens, opinions, and impressions because I know what it is like to be told too much.

I looked at him to see if I had damaged him. To see if his eyes were wide and scared but instead, they were looking for mine. His big brown eyes danced as they met mine and I wanted to cry again but this time in relief and a whole lot of love, that I hadn’t broken him.

He hugged me smiled said I know all of that and left the kitchen.

I hung my head down looking at my cheap Big W shoes and thought to myself perhaps you do while he went to his brothers who were pulling off the washing on the verandah.

I finished cutting the cheese for dinner and walked out to see what they were up too. I had half expected him to retell them the whole vomit fueled speech. Instead, in that short time they had obviously had a brotherly discussion because as he threw the clothes into the basket, they all stopped and turned to me. But it was only B1 who spoke he said to me it’s our job to do a lot of things for you mum, make you cranky, angry and sad but it’s never our job to be part of what makes you feel scared or allow you to feel scared. We will help you mum, but you got to tell us first.

I smiled at him as I heard the words back in my head you got to tell us first.

Being honest with my kids about how I am and what I am feeling has been life changing to my parenting and how we are together. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t offload on to my children. I am their parent, and I’m extremely careful about what I tell them contradictory there are rules with this honesty because it goes along with their wellbeing, but if something is bothering me that affects them I tell them I allow them to be part of the solution because if you aren’t going to fix it then telling them is pointless. I think that is a pivotal point in being honest and sharing a ‘burden.’ If I am having a blue day and they ask what’s wrong, I tell them, but I also say only I can fix that problem but thank you for asking and giving me your patience.

I thought this level of honesty would scare them that it would weaken our strong family unit, but it hasn’t it’s made stronger. And the best part the very part they tell me more, they are more honest about when they are scared and afraid. Such as last night B2 told me he worries about things till he can’t sleep, we are now trying to fix that. And I know if I wasn’t honest I know he wouldn’t be either.

You got to tell us first is very much the rule.

xxDeb

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My husband went back to work today so our weekend is officially over and yet for everyone else its Friday.

The kids went to school, and I drove him down the hill to the airport. We have been doing this a long time, and I have always been very ‘stoic’. Most times a few stray tears and the odd squeak from my throat will escape to which I will cover with a bark at the children or say I got to get going, but mostly I treat airport drop offs like ripping off a band-aid. It’s a shitty moment but its got to be done. Just get it done. The nonsentimental in me doesn’t drag it out by lifting the sides gently or talking about how it should be done. Just do it. Rip that sucker off. The band aid theory rules my drop off days infact it rules most difficult emotional moments. We kiss, hug, say thanks for the fantastic RNR and run. Should you decide to use this method and he looks confused just tell him to be grateful you stopped the car you have emotion to control, you can then commence conversations in the car when he is no longer in view via the phone- I never said it was perfect.

The above scenario it’s not heartless its tongue in cheek.

But this drop-off was different, and my ’emotion’ caught me by surprise. I actually commenced the ugly cry. He looked down at me as most must do when embracing me and said are you okay. It was with the question that this weird noise gurgled from my throat, I inhaled to sob before realizing catching myself and saying yes I’m fine.

I then proceeded to wipe the tears that ran, put on my sunglasses, laughed at myself as I got in the car and drove off without a second look because who knows what may have happened if I looked back.

Its five weeks this schmuck being me can do five weeks especially when the quality payoff is huge, but as I left, I’m sure I heard that not so little sucker say if I have to take the vessel to Singapore it might be longer.

Five weeks plus seven days out of phone contact and no return date. To that statement, I should have but didn’t reply but will here on my blog “dutyfree twice. Eternity by Calvin Klien and Jadore By Dior. Husband thank you and your welcome I know you love your job, its why I love you. Thank you for being amazing and sacrificing for us.Duty-free Singapore then again Cairns”

Anyway some stuff to start your weekend.

  • 12 kinds of kindness because kindness should be spread like its french butter thickly and too much is never enough. Here.
  • A vaccine for Alzheimer’s that’s just plain exciting stuff. Here.
  • A few tips from parents who seem to know what they are doing and I can bet you they all wear white pants. Here.
  • Why so many incompetent men become leaders. I’mm sure we all know one. Here.

xxDeb

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{a fifo wife} Are you happy…

by debbie on July 1, 2016

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Laying in bed last night my husband rolled and said in the dark Are you happy.

I hesitated for a minute.

Yes, I said.

You took awhile to answer he said rolling back but not following it up any further.

I never answered him but the truth is I am happy, happier than I was or have been for awhile. I don’t expect to be deliriously happy all the time. I’m never going to be one of those bouncing off the walls happy people. They are annoying to my disposition so to become one would be all sorts of offence on myself. Opening a whole new can of worms of self-loathing.

And in truth I don’t think you can be deliriously happy all the time but if you can see snippets and have pieces of happiness and more importantly contentment then your on a win. Being happy 24/7, 365 days a year your whole life is not possible. Growth doesn’t come from complete happiness and I like ‘growing’ as a person. I believe it makes you more of something.

But how did I find it after so many months of being without it? I can’t. I can’t tell you how to find the happy it was never the point of the post more just an update because so many contacted me after this one but I have come to learn a couple of things about myself on finding the happy.

Acceptance of yourself. Being okay with who you are and that you will have flat days it is part of who you are as a human. Liking who you are is the happy game changer. It will turn a matte finish grey day into a gloss finish grey day. I have always had a strong, good sense of self it whats what my husband fell in love with but motherhood can confuse the self out of you. However, I not only like the person I was before children, I like who I am now and if I were a stranger I reckon I would be okay to be friends with.

So as the kids file out of bed, searching for me in their confused state to cuddle me, my heart can almost not bear it, contentment has found me.

I am for this minute content and happy, and that’s all I or anyone can ask for.

Xx Deb

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{a fifo wife} were happiness comes from ..

by debbie on July 1, 2016

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Where does happiness come from? It comes from the edges of discomfort, pain, and contentment.

It comes from you.

xx Deb

All images with thanks to Hyggelig Photography. Check out their facebook page and beautiful Instagram.

Abel’s birth day from Hyggelig Photography on Vimeo.

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