Co-Parenting: Its not just for Divorced Families

Co-Parenting is important for all families whether divorced or together

When we talk about co-parenting its often thought of as two divorced or separated parents working together to parent their children. You hear it in the courtroom when the judge rules on child custody matters; you hear it in the counseling room, at the children’s school during parent teacher conferences. BUT, what if we expanded that. All too often parents that live in the home together aren’t even on the same page with parenting issues. Or what about parents that are married but one parent travels for work and is rarely home. These couples need to learn the art of co-parenting also, yet no one will ever even mention the idea to them because they aren’t divorced.

Applying the concept of co-parenting teams to married couples is helpful, especial in the military communities when one parent is in and out of the house. So often the spouse on the home-front feels the brunt of parenting responsibility and the service member feels guilty for their lack of presence in their children’s lives whether because of deployment, TDY, field time, whatever. The home front parent feels like the disciplinarian, fun sucker etc. And the more absent parent spoils the children with gifts, rarely punishes, and is the more lax parent (of course this is not always the case, but the general pattern). This creates two different set of operations for the children to follow, and creates chaos in the house as the children try to figure out which set of rules they need to operate under at any given minute.
Parents should be a co-parenting team, discussing how they plan to raise their children, and the expectations they have for one another as a parenting team and for their children before having a family. Having these types of discussions early and often can eliminate stress and anger down the road. So what does it mean to be a co-parenting team? Here are some basic guidelines on what it means to be a co-parenting team, regardless of whether or not you are still married.

How to Co-Parent Effectively:

Consistency is King!

Regardless of anything else consistency will win out; the moment you give in, you have taught your children that if they whine and complain hard enough, you will give them what they want. If you say “no” and your spouse says “yes”, they will play ya’ll against each other. Stay consistent personally and as a team. You and your spouse are a team you can’t be in charge of the kids if you are squabbling amongst yourselves.

Don’t let one Parent always be the Disciplinarian.

Don’t let one parent always be the disciplinarian. I know this isn’t always possible when one parent is gone a lot, but when they are present make sure the workload is fully shared, this means disciplining as well. The kids will see a united front if the responsibility is split. This also applies to showing affection towards your children, both parents should be responsible for showing physical, verbal, and emotional affection towards their children. You’d hate to be labeled as the cold one while your children constantly turn to your spouse for affection.

Don’t tolerate it when your Children Play you Against Each Other

Do not EVER tolerate it when your children play you against one another. I remember I did that once as a child, and let me tell you once was enough! They made it clear that they would not tolerate me playing them against each other. It does not matter what discipline plan you and your partner choose, along as it is agreed upon.

 Conclusion:

These three points are broad, but purposefully so. No family has the same experiences and circumstances. Because it is a broad overview it can be applied to any two parent family in any circumstance. Remember, no matter what you and your spouse are a team. Teams work better when they work together (I know that sounds cliché but, it’s entirely too true). Having a strong co-parenting team  tension and stress within your marital relationship will be reduced. Making your marriage even stronger!

Military parents, I know how hard co-parenting can be when one parent is home only a small percentage of the time. Service members are out of the home so much for trainings, deployments, field time, or maybe you opted to be a part while a child finishes school. This can be hard, and even confusing for some children when one parent is still an authority, but not home the majority of the time. If this is something you struggle with in your home hop over to my Military Parenting Page and check out my program coming soon: Parenting Coaching Designed specifically for Military Parents to address the unique concerns that we face with our children. Take a moment and sign up for updates and receive a FREE GIFT: Behavior Chart & an Easy How to Guide for Promoting Positive Behavior in our children.



Co-Parenting: It is not just for divorced families

Welcome to Army Life: Learning a Whole New Lingo

Welcome Army Life: Learning a Whole New Language

A friend, and fellow MilSpouse said it best, “Alpha, Foxtrot, What?!?!” I could not agree more. From military time, to the phonetic alphabet, to all their damn acronyms the military culture is certainly unique. And unless you are entrenched in it before you get married; extremely confusing ad overwhelming. Now having only been married to the military for a year, I am not going to pretend to be an expert. I am still sitting over here wishing that google translator had a military option! But I have picked up a few things over the last couple months of living on Fort Benning that have been extremely helpful.

When I first got here the only person I knew was my husband, and as he was in training he spent most of his days (and nights) sleeping out under the stars in the field. So he was not a lot of help in making the transition. Thankfully he has passed that phase for now and is home most of the time. But while he was gone I had to do some improvising. So what to do when you are overwhelmed by the military life culture. Well first I Google. “oh are you going to the FRG?” Ummm hold on let me consult my personal assistant, a.k.a. Hi google, “what is FRG?” Google: FRG stands for Family Readiness Group, the place for spouses to gather that is based on your spouses’ Unit. It is typically headed by the Commander’s wife. If your spouse is deployed this is where you would get information regarding your husband movements. They host coffee groups which are social gatherings. Google can be a serious life saver; any acronym someone throws at you, just O.K. Google! And, depending on your internet connection, you can have it within seconds.

Ask For Help

Do not be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t know something you are not going to learn by nodding your head, and pretending you understand without piping up and saying so. The one thing I have learned so far is that most people in the military world pay little attention to how new you are to post (in case you didn’t know, that is what Army people call a base or fort), and will proceed with acronyms galore in their conversations. Asking for help is absolutely ok, nobody is going to judge you for it, I promise. It will probably make the person you are asking feel good that they are able to help you out. So ask, it’s the only way to learn, other than google!

Find Good Resources

Also, a couple of really well known Military Spouse Bloggers, J.D. Collins from Semi-Delicate Balance, Jo, My Gosh, and Lauren Tamm from The Military Wife & Mom, wrote an e-book called the “Modern Military Spouse”. It has everything you would ever want to know about Military life and culture. It even has a handy Acronym Dictionary in the back! (This post is not in any way endorsed by them, I am simply passing along information about a tool that I found invaluable in starting my journey as a military spouse.) You can find it here: ​http://jomygosh.com/the-modern-military-spouse/

Where Anxiety Comes from & Why it Won’t go Away

Where does Anxiety Come from & How we can make it go awat

We always think, once that test I over, once my husband gets home from deployment, TDY, the field; my kid grows out of this phase then I won’t be anxious any more. As soon as that event ends and we think we can relax. We just find something else to be anxious about. Why can’t we just relax? Well I will tell you.

The reason we have so much anxiety in our lives is because the society we live in perpetuates it. Just watch any TV commercial it will tell you all about the products you are missing out on and that you just have to have, and you will see that it is breeding grounds for feeling like we are missing out. We are constantly comparing our lives to everyone around us, who we assume always has everything perfectly together. And we suddenly feel very inadequate. Sure, come January first and we are making our new year’s resolution we will vow not to compare ourselves to other, but January 2nd rolls around and we go to a friend’s house and their house is already un-decorated, put away and cleaned. And we go home to our house filled with boxes of unfinished, unorganized Christmas decorations and we fall back into the trap.

So what can we do about this vicious cycle? Because we are imperfect people, we will never rid our lives of anxiety fully, but if we recognize the cycle and can identify it in our own lives then we can get one step closer to living peacefully alongside our anxiety. Wait what did you just say you might ask? Living peacefully alongside anxiety? That sounds like an oxymoron. In some ways maybe. There is always going to be a new product out. Our friends will always be doing something different from us. We are always going to have that anxiety in our lives; and that’s ok. It is how we respond to our anxiety that determines whether or not we live peacefully.

Often we think we are in the wrong for feeling anxious, because everyone hides their anxiety from everyone else; trying to pretend it doesn’t exist. By acknowledging it we gain power of it, we are no longer acting out of anxious reactivity we can choose how we respond to the anxiety. Reactivity to anxiety is what keeps us in the falsehood of as soon as the circumstances change our anxiety will lift; keeps us constantly purchasing the next “it” item of clothing, make-up, toy for our child; it’s what keeps us constantly looking for something else to satisfy our void. Reactivity will never make our anxiety go away it will just shift the focus of our anxiety. Recognizing our anxiety, operating knowing that we have control over it means freedom.

We own our anxiety by recognizing that its present and choosing to act despite it. It is the push to try something new, dare to be different, and own and accept your life for what it is and what God has given to you. Way easier said than done I agree; however, with prayer, patience, and knowing we aren’t always going to get it right we can live peacefully alongside our anxiety instead of imprisoned by its constraints.

After we recognize our anxiety what are we supposed to do about it? Here is where our coping skills come into play. Below I have linked to another post all about coping skills. I wanted to talk about one in particular that seems to be helpful for just about everybody. And that is talking to someone! A lot of us have someone we can trust that we can turn to. But sometimes that person may be gone thanks to Military Life. If you are looking for someone to talk to and don’t know where to turn, Better Help has some great suggestions.

Here are some more handy coping skills when you’re struggling with anxiety!

We all face some anxiety, some of us more than others. But despite our levels of anxiety if we don;t know how to address it we can never learn how to live with our anxiety.

Husband Bashing

In order to keep our marriages healthy we need to grow in fondness, meaning we need to stop husband bashing!

Husband bashing: just google it. You will find tons of articles listing why you should not do it; funny jokes; and to beware of husband bashers. Yet, it is so easy to do. He makes us mad, forgets the one thing at the store we needed most, whatever. And we turn to our sisters, friends, or worse the internet. We are all guilty of this. But if we are being honest with ourselves, we do not feel any better for it. All we have done is tick off our husbands and turn our biggest supporters against him. So what can we do instead the next he forgets to pick up milk on his way home?

Well according to one of the most respected researchers in marital and relational therapy, Dr. John Gottman, suggests that one of the seven principles for making marriage work is to nurture fondness and admiration for each other. But how can we do that when we are constantly bashing our husbands for all their short comings? We can’t; we can’t both admire them and bash them at the same time. Every time we bash them publicly or even internally, we forfeit the opportunity to admire their positive qualities, what drew us to our spouses in the first place.

As humans we are naturally drawn to more immediately recognize negative situations, characteristics, events, individuals, and actions. This means we are more apt to notice our spouses’ short comings rather than their achievements and successes. As a result, we husband bash to vent our frustrations. Learning to train our minds to focus on the good, positive moments takes time and dedication. And slowly we won’t gravitate towards nitpicking the negatives. Allowing us to turn towards our spouse and remember to stay fond of each other, have happy memories together in the present, not just the past. When we are fond of our husbands and admire them for all their strengths, we won’t continue to bash our husbands. If we continue to husband bash, it becomes breeding ground for contempt in our relationship. Contempt is one of the number one enemies of a healthy, successful relationships. Fostering fondness is an antidote to the growing contempt, remembering why we love our spouse keeps the focus positives in our relationship.

​ We do this by consistently telling our spouses why we appreciate them, identifying positive qualities they admire about their partner and reminiscing about the past; what brought you together, what was the first thing that attracted you to your spouse, and shared memories of good times together. This will buffer the stresses that you encounter in your relationship by altering your view of your partner as fundamentally positive as opposed to negative. It will not eliminate any stresses in your relationship, but it will help you navigate the stresses you encounter together. So remember, next time he forgets to do wash the dishes, don’t bash your husband tell them what you appreciate them instead. Maybe he didn’t do the dishes because he was busy playing with the kids; you never know. The fonder of your husband you are, the happier your relationship will be.

The Art of Learning to be Content Where You Are

The Art of Learning to be Content Where you Are

“Hurry up and wait,” was not a phrase I was all too familiar with prior to getting married, yet sometime I now feel like it’s my life anthem. In the last couple months I have gotten all geared up for one possibility or another only for them to all be for not. And here are again gearing up for a change only to get so far and now we wait again.

But waiting is not my strong suit. I am impatient, I want things done and I want them done now. And clearly the Army does not cater to me, how dare they!

But waiting for the Army to tell us the next move means waiting on more than just for the next move.  It means waiting to find the perfect job, finding the perfect house, making plans for the future. And that’s hard for me. I like to be in control of my life and this has left me feeling completely out of control as I hurry up and wait.

If I don’t learn how to be content and happy right where I am in life now, it’s going to be a long military career for us. I will be setting myself up for a lot of disappointment and will make my husband crazy in the process trying to please me despite his career.

So how am I learning to be content and waiting for the future. The answer is very slowly and not very gracefully if we are being honest with each other!  Thankfully I have a husband that has endless grace for me when I am not patient. But, what I have learned is that I need to have more grace for myself in that it’s ok for me to get my hopes up and dream about our future, and that disappointments are okay.  However, what we do with those disappointments is more important. By owning our disappointments and monitoring our reactions we can learn to be content in our current situation.

For me, knowing that our joy  does not come from within but is a gift from the Lord is the biggest reminder of how to be content in my current situation. I know it’s not my timing but the Lord is in charge, even when it feels like it’s the military. Relying on him to supply our joy in times of difficulty and disappointment makes all the difference in the world. So no matter what circumstances we are in I will continue to “hurry up and wait,” for the blessings that the Lord has in store for us!

How are you learning to be content where you are in life?

The Art of Learning to be Content Where you are

Veterans We Salute You

Veterans We Salute You

Today is Veteran’s day, an all important day that we as Americans take to give thanks and honor those  men and women who have and are currently bravely defending our great country. I can think of no group of people more deserving of our thanks.

I didn’t  grow up in a military family, I knew my grandfathers both served in WWII and a couple uncles who had served in the past, but it was not a large part of my family history, like it will be for our future children.
However as I flipped through my Timehop app this morning I noticed that ever since high school I had taken the opportunity to thank the veterans in my life and those all around the country.  Without them  who knows where we would be today! And I am grateful that we do not have to find out.

Over the last couple years Veteran’s day has taken on a whole new meaning for me. I am now married to an active duty Army service member. I am so proud of him and his accomplishments. And yet he is so humble. He does not view his job as needing special thanks. And neither do most other soldiers I have met  since marrying into the military. They do it because it’s the job they choose like being an accountant or lawyer or any other professional.  If they were in it simply for recognition  they would never make it through the rigorous training, demanding work schedule, and constantly being on call 24/7.

That is why I think they deserve even more honor and respect and especially our thanks even if it’s just once a year. These humble men and women may have to make the ultimate sacrifice for our safety, and freedom and they want nothing in return. But even so extend your hand and today thank a veteran in your life; even if they say they do not deserve it because they absolutely do!

Army Life: Even When you have a Plan you don’t have a Plan

Army Life - Even when you have a plan, you don't have a plan

When we began this crazy Army life, our plan was to go into the National Guard, stay in South Carolina and be there forever… 2 years later of course that is not where we ended up because, well Army. I went to Graduate school, got a degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, my husband opted out of the Guard and went Active Duty.

Here we are now at Fort Benning and we still can’t make a plan! Now if you are anything like me, this drives you CRAZY. I am the kind of person that has plan A through Z and then some. I love plans. I like knowing what is coming next and when its coming. So as a new Army Wife you can imagine how frustrating this can be! SO what is a person to do? Well here is what I have come up with!

Lemony Snicket Quote - If you keep waiting...

​1. Eat some chocolate, ice cream, peanut butter, a whole bag of potato chips. Whatever your guilty pleasure food is, eat it! And don’t feel guilty well all just need a little something to feel better sometimes.
2. Talk to your girlfriends, trust me they are feeling the same frustrations! That’s what Army Sister Wives are for! That is why finding community is so important
3. Remember, no matter how frustrated you get, your hubby has just as little control as you do! I the Army he isn’t in charge of what is happening in his career as far as where he goes and when he finds things out. So try try try your hardest not to blame him, because it is not his fault yall still don’t have orders!
4. Take a deep breath, you can do this, eventually the Army will give you the information you need to know to move forward!
5. Smile, because at least if you don’t know what is coming you get to wait around and worry with the one you love (even if they are not always right beside you. And no matter what, that is a Blessing!
So there you go. Don’t let it hinder you from doing things, go to school, have that family, plan that vacation, and get the first (or second) puppy because if you are always waiting for the perfect timing you will be waiting your entire army career.

Amy Life is having Plans A through Z and knowing you will be using one of the plans at the end of the alphabet