Multiple studies have shown that by verbally expressing the positive feelings and experiences in our lives, we create a more physically and psychologically healthy self. We also increase the health and mental well-being of those we share with.
“There is no joy in possession without sharing.’’ – Desiderius Erasmus
By keeping good news to ourselves, we hurt our minds and our bodies, and only do a disservice to our children by not allowing them to share the positive with their whole family.
Often as parents of a blended family, it becomes too easy to hoard the experiences you have with your child. You might think, “They don’t offer information about what happened during their time together, why should I?” or “There isn’t enough time to go over every little detail, it is not that important.” Sometimes the animosity between parents simply makes it hard to find it in yourself to share something positive, instead of focusing on old issues.
Several negative results can stem from keeping good news to yourself. Mainly, and what should be the most important, is your child suffers.
For example, imagine what feelings would occur if your child received straight A’s for a semester and because of the co-parenting relationship, you chose not to share this. As a result they were never able to feel praise from their other parent. They might begin to feel doing well in school is not important, that their parent does not feel proud of their accomplishments, or simply that they are not a priority in their parent’s life.
When children find themselves no longer a priority in the lives of their parents, they can act out, lose self-esteem, and essentially lose the drive to do anything good or unique.
That may seem extreme, but it is the praise we share as adults that pushes our children to know how to find humor, interest, happiness, strength, among hundreds of other things. No one sets out to take away a strength or a personality trait from a child, but our actions or inaction can strip them bare in a heartbeat.
It is essential to make an effort to share not only the basic and pertinent information about your child, but also the fun and wonderful information. It helps create a good team relationship, and allows each member to see the joy of your child and not the stress of co-parenting.
The more everyone focuses on the positive aspects, the less importance will be placed on old emotions and difficulties.
Every relationship is different, and sharing is easier for some than others. If this seems difficult, start small, tell your co-parent about your child losing a tooth (basic information they need to know), but do it with excitement or allow your child to share the news with you. This takes a simple but necessary act, and adds positive feelings and reactions. By sharing joy, we create joy. As you progress, it will start to feel natural to share a funny thing your child said, or a great thing they accomplished in school. In addition, for every person who learns about the positive experience your child had, it is one more person that will share that moment with your child which builds up their positive feelings and self-confidence. So take the time. Find the joy in your child, and share that joy with your co-parenting partner. Allow them to feel the pride you do, and allow your child to benefit from a strong and open relationship.
Sharing exciting news can be accomplished in a variety of ways. The simplest is to verbally tell your co-parent face to face as the child moves from one household to another. This method is simple because it is convenient, and it is more natural to trade information in this setting. Some parents do find it difficult, however, to converse during this time. In that case, one of the following methods could be used to share good experiences, but keep the face to face meetings basic.
Make a phone call– Either you can make the call, or your child can make the call and share the good news. It does not matter, as the important thing is to share.
Write an e-mail– Impersonal, but quick and efficient, e-mail is versatile as it can include pictures as well as the story you want to share.
Send a written note back and forth with each exchange– Write down a list of the positive experiences your child had, or pen a short letter explaining what they accomplished that should be praised. This way each time you pick up your child, you can read through this with them, and there might even be times a parent was happy and the child never realized it.
Send a text– Shoot a quick text to your co-parenting partner before the news is forgotten. This is a perfect way to get immediate feedback.
Download an app– We live in a world that is immersed with technology, so put some of it to good use. There are now apps available that allow you to note everything you want to share with your co-parent (schedules, achievements, to do lists) and it can be viewed immediately in an online family planner or sent as a file. Also, there is a great app called Artkive that allows you to record your child’s artwork and even make a book out of it.
Again, I want to stress, it does not matter how the information is transferred from one parent to another, what matters is that the news is handed out. Find the way that works best for you, and have fun with it. As humans our brains put larger emphasis on negative experiences because we basically have them less often, and positive experiences have less emphasis because we become accustomed to them in everyday life. By verbally expressing our positive experiences we are giving them more weight, and the more we do this the better we become. The happier we become. The more joyful our families become!
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