Co-parenting when your ex has different values from your own can be frustrating. As a Christian you want your children to grow up with Christian values. But, what do you do when their other parent is living with a very different set of values? How can you control for the negative influence this might be in the lives of your children?
Time after time, I see people struggle with this question. It’s no light weight issue.
Coping with Reality
It’s hard to accept but the truth is if you and your ex had exactly the same values you may well not be divorced now. What’s more, it’s not likely that you are suddenly going to find your values to be exactly the same if they were already divergent. Harder yet to accept is that you can’t control your ex’s values any more than that person can control your values.
So, how do you handle co-parenting when your ex has different values? How do you best teach your children the values you want them to have even if their other parent is influencing them in different ways?
8 Strategies that Can Help when Your Ex Has Different Values
- Turn your attention to those areas where you do have control. If you are unable to agree with the children’s other parent about values, shift your focus to those areas you can control. Spending time fighting with your ex or dwelling on what that person should or shouldn’t do won’t get you anywhere. You’ll be more effective if you act on those things you can control.
- Focus on what is most important.
Teaching your children fundamental values gives them an underlying system of beliefs that helps them make decisions in a variety of situations. In a post on the Focus on the Family website, Phil Steiger says the Bible points parents to seven virtues or traits of moral behavior that make for good parenting. I believe when you practice these values in parenting, you by modeling are also teaching them to your children. These seven values include principles rooted in love, respect, setting boundaries, and other Christian principles. A link to his article listing all seven virtues is at the end of this post.
- Teach by consistent example.
An article by Abby Herman in Solo Parent Magazine, says “What is the best way to impart your values on your kids? Be consistent with what you do and say during the time you have with your children.” Children watch how you live your life even if their other parent makes different choices.
- Nurture your values through community.
Having others reinforce your values can make a big difference. Get your children plugged in to an effective church. Build a network of family and friends who model the values you want your children to have.
- Bow out of power struggles.
Because you love your children and are passionate about their well –being it can be easy to fall into power struggles with your ex. It may take focused effort but avoid that trap. You may not respect your ex’s values but if you can respect that person’s right to have values that differ from your own, you will be teach your children a valuable lesson.
- Use choices and consequences.
Kids develop their own values by listening, watching, and evaluating. Help your children see how the choices people make impact the consequences they experience.
- Teach from an “I” perspective.
Avoid bad-mouthing the values of your children’s other parent. Speaking ill of their other parent’s choices can backfire. Instead, talk about why you have chosen the values you hold and how those values enrich your life.
- Listen to your kids
Listening to your children allows you to know how they are responding to the various influences in their lives. Knowing what they’re thinking gives you the opportunity to provide gentle guidance where needed.
Co-Parenting when Your Ex Has Different Values
Your ex may have different values from yours but it is still possible to instill sound values in your children. It’s also important to recognize that as they grow into teenagers, they will take in input from a variety of sources and develop their own values. That’s a natural part of growing up. Yet, the fundamental values you teach stand a very good chance of finding a place in the core foundations of their belief systems.
For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 ESV
Talk with God
Father, I know nothing is impossible with you. Thank you for my children. Guide me in every step I take as a parent. Help me to do what is best to help them walk with you. In Jesus name, Amen.
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One of the best things you can do for your children is
to heal from divorce yourself.
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