We are in an era of people telling us that being vulnerable is being strong, that you need to express your feelings, and that the needs of your children are more important than your needs. Peaceful parenting is not only possible but easy! All you have to do is be perfect. All the time.
Toss in a difficult divorce to these impossible to follow social protocols, and it’s like your entire manhood is being taken away. You’re supposed to play by the rules, let your ex have her way, and still show up as a good dad every day.
But is role modeling being a pushover part of being a good dad? Are you truly expressing all your feelings or just the ones you are being told are socially acceptable? If you’re left angry on the inside, is that genuinely good parenting?
More important than how we should engage in peaceful parenting is why.
Why Peaceful Parenting Is Better Than MMA Parenting
You see your ex get out of the car, and your heart rate increases. You breathe faster. Your pulse quickens. You feel flushed.
It’s not the attraction of when you first met – it’s anger. You’re ready to step into the ring with her and start grappling. It doesn’t matter what she’s about to say, you know she’s never going to admit she’s wrong, she won’t forgive you for stuff that wasn’t even your fault, and she won’t back down.
She’s never going to try to understand you.
Meanwhile, there are your kids, eyes wide, waiting for you both to start shouting. They’re scared. They need holding. And the two people they trust most in the world are in the middle of the fight.
Maybe it’s not that bad for your family, or maybe it’s worse. Regardless, you know this is one of the worst things your kids have to go through. The hardest part of divorce can be trying to be a hero in your kid’s eyes by standing up for what you believe, only to see that they might see you as a monster for the way that you are doing it.
If you really want to keep your kids out of the crossfire, then you need to change the way you interact.
The good news is: it’s possible. Like any worthwhile change, it’s not easy. But peaceful parenting is achievable, and it starts with your willingness. If you think you have what it takes to be a man and get what you want, then consider these tactics to help you in your next confrontation with your ex.
5 Painless and Proven Negotiation Strategies That Work
- Chill. Disconnect yourself from any drama or immediate concerns. Take a deep breath. If you are constantly reacting to situations, you are acting as your distracted self. This is not your best self. Take as much time as you need before responding to your ex, but communicate with her that you are taking some time to process so that when you do respond, it’s with your full attention. This can include telling your ex that you need to leave the physical situation, and you will get back to her later via phone, text, or email.
- Think Big. Be proactive and take control of the steering wheel. If you aren’t actively navigating your life journey, then you are allowing someone else the power of steering you around. Imagine running a marathon, only to find out you went in the wrong direction – you would be twice as far from your goal. If you have already found a way to manage your reactions, great. Now you need to start planning for the long term. What is the big picture life you want to lead? Where does your ex fit into this picture? Where do you see your children fitting into your life? Envisioning the life you want to live is one step closer to actively living it.
- Act Big. No matter how much life planning or self-discovery you have done, nobody will credit you for what you think. You will be judged and acknowledged for the actions you took. Actions speak louder than words, but both actions and words speak much louder than thoughts. While children can pick up on plenty of subtleties of context and intention, actions are primarily what they will be watching and imitating. If you have taken the first few steps to get grounded and plan out what you want, this is the time to make those things happen by doing. This is also a great opportunity to role model integrity when you follow through with what you say you will do, as well as alignment when you act according to what you believe.
- Go Big. It’s time to take some big steps in getting what you want. Start by being who you would want the other person in the conflict to be. If you want her to be accountable for the things she says and does, then take accountability for your own words and your own actions. The next step up from there is to learn how to act better so that you can be proud to be accountable for how you show up during conflict. Remember, your kids are always watching and listening, especially when you think they’re not. How you act right now is in great part how they will act as they grow up.
- Go Home. No matter what the verdict of the negotiation is, you need to go home at the end of the day. And that means more than you and your ex physically going to your separate homes. You need to go back to a positive mental space, feel like you’re a grown man capable of making good decisions, and be so solid in your core beliefs and self-confidence that you can be a pillar of support for your children, who need you now more than ever. For them, you are home.
Sharpen Your Tools
Like any great tools, these will only help you if you learn how and when to use them. You can’t go out and buy a new toolbox at Home Depot and expect to be a master craftsman overnight. You need to watch a tutorial video, get a feel for how they work, then dive in and learn through trial and error.
Additionally, it’s not just you using these tools. It’s like you’re stuck at a construction job with a partner who may or may not be using the same tools or any tools at all! So it’s up to you to share these tools with your ex if you think she could benefit from them – especially if you first ask if she would like to know what tools you are using. If you offer unsolicited advice, it could come off as condescending, and have the opposite effect, making her shy away from the man who never tries to understand her needs.
It’s okay to make mistakes. Failure is our greatest teacher. This is a lesson we constantly learn, and one of the best lessons we can pass on to our kids. Talking things out with an ex and trying to keep your cool is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, so go easy on yourself.
Take Off The Gloves
Your ex may expect you to continue showing up in the way you always have. If you come at her with a new approach, it could be a surprise. She may change her tactics as you are changing yours. It never hurts to be clear with your intentions. You can tell her you have been doing some research on how the two of you can negotiate a peaceful parenting agreement to help keep your kids safe. Regardless of how she feels about you, she is very likely to also have your children’s best interests at the forefront. If you come to her with their needs sincerely as the focus of why you want to change, she will be more willing to accept this new version of you, and may even want to join you in negotiating a peaceful parenting agreement.
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