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What Politics Teaches Us About Divorce

In today's state of divisive politics, one can learn a lot about conflict. The one thing politics can teach us is that it is necessary to work within a framework of rules and decorum in order to come together to make important decisions (such as how to raise happy, healthy, and productive humans!) If Republicans and Democrats can work together for the good of the country, you and your Ex can definitely Co-Parent without conflict for the good of your kids.

Your identity as a Parent is way more important than your identity as an ‘Ex’.

What does politics teach us about divorce?  That some people just suck?  People are idiots?  People JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND?!?!  Maybe, but it also teaches us that even when we are completely, indeterminately opposed to each other we still live in a society where we have to come together and solve common problems. 

No matter how loud the other side yells or stomps their feet, no matter how much they say things we don’t like, as a society (and individuals) we continue to march on, get things done and live our best lives.  No matter how far apart we think we are in our beliefs , or what policies we think are right and which are wrong, we are fundamentally all Americans and there is more that binds us than divides us. 

Likewise, the parental love for your children will mean you and your Ex always have a stronger common goal than any personal differences that keep you apart.  No matter how much you disagree on parenting choices and style, or how you may have behaved toward each other, you are first and foremost parents who want your children to have their best lives.

Rules are critical to working together.

What politics teaches us about co-parenting

While Congress doesn’t seem to be the most effective system at making decisions and moving forward, they do provide an excellent example of how to structure a working relationship with people with whom you disagree.  Government is completely dependent on its rules and structure in order to exist.  If Congress didn’t have rules that governed even the minutia of daily tasks, our politics would devolve into complete chaos.  But because of those rules, everyone can speak their mind and have their say and still come back to a place of business-like communication where important issues can be resolved.  And no matter how crazy an individual may get during their time to speak, or how passionate someone feels about an issue, when it comes to conducting business, everyone is respectful to their colleagues. 

You can express your hurt, your dissatisfaction, your concerns and your dreams but after you’ve had your say, you must conduct yourself with restraint and politeness or otherwise things will grind to a halt and you will be stuck in the same time and place forever.  In a nation as big and boisterous and diverse as ours, rules and norms are what bind us together and give shape to our normal lives, especially when we disagree.  Likewise, the rules you create between each other around your new co-parenting relationship will be what gives structure and support to living your everyday lives in peace and security and without conflict.

Nothing is as effective for accomplishing your goal as listening to the other side.

When we see politicians fighting and digging in, it is mostly a tactic of delay because nothing is accomplished when one side isn’t listening.  In some circumstances, delay and bluffing is effective and that side of the political aisle wins, but life tends to balance out and there are short-term gains and small victories and then there is the big vision of the future.  As co-parents you must never lose sight that your long-term goal is creating happy, healthy, well-adjusted humans.  Short-term victories don’t mean anything if they work against your long-term goal.  If there is an immediate ‘win’ or ‘loss’ that has no impact on the long-term goal then the victory or defeat is a small one. 

The only way to ever make true progress is to know what the other side wants and why. Once you have this information you can begin to think about the problem differently and brainstorm solutions. You can begin to evaluate the pros and cons of different options and make logical, rational decisions around your children. (See ‘How a Topics List Meets All of Your Goals‘)

If Republicans and Democrats can talk to each other – You CAN co-parent peacefully.

More than anything, politics teaches us that relationships are complicated; that we can work with people with whom we have fundamental differences; that periods of conflict and discomfort are sometimes necessary for growth; and that structure and rules can create a foundation where we can come together and get things done.  If Republicans and Democrats in today’s society can find common ground – SO CAN YOU!  How is this possible?  Because the focus becomes on things greater than ourselves.  In service to one’s country, the focus becomes on larger principles of freedom, opportunity, equality.  For parents, that focus becomes your kids: not just what is the best for them in this exact moment but how to support your children emotionally and financially so they may reach their full potential as adults. You both have the same goal! Now, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to accomplish that goal but that is 100% do-able.

Ask not what your children can do for you but what you can do for your children.

There are some things worth risking everything for.  For many who serve our country, those things are the eternal truths and principles of our democracy.  For a parent, it’s the health and well-being of their children.  Your kids are worth risking everything for – approaching your co-parenting relationship from a different perspective, one that allows you to co-parent without fighting should seem easy compared to the other sacrifices you are willing to make for them. Come together, ask what you can to together for the benefit of your children.

If Republicans and Democrats can get along you can co-parent without conflict

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