I was speaking with a friend who told me that his ex-wife makes all the decisions regarding their son without consulting him. “She thinks she is the CEO of our child,” he stated. I had to think about that for a minute, as most moms who have primary physical custody tend to make most of the decisions unilaterally and then notify the other parent.
I could hear his frustration and anguish at not being a part of the decision-making process and how that could adversely affect their child. When your child sees that you are the only one involved in the decision-making, it does not create a unified front, invites splitting and allows the child to begin, on a subconscious level, to discount the other parent. What are the ways around it? Stay in communication about your child’s activities, academics and vacations so both parents are aware, in real time, of what’s taking place. This does not mean you have to run your personal schedule or ask permission (per se) if you’d like to plan something with your child, but it does foster a conversation and closes the loop on communication. Your child will benefit as they will begin to see that Mommy and Daddy are both aware of their schedules and activities, and won’t feel as though they have to hide, conceal or feel uncomfortable when talking about future plans or more current activities.
3 Steps to Possible Success:
1. Elicit a conversation about upcoming events or activities your child wants to be a part of. Pick one or two major activities coming up to talk about. The smaller everyday decisions (such as playdates) are not really an issue.
2. Use a shared calendar that both co-parents can add their child’s activities on. Both parents have access to it and both parents feel in control of it.
3. Have a unified front in front of your child: no blaming or shaming. Your child wants both parents involved and this will help deliver the message that both parents love and support equally.