Whose team are you on?
Last month I had the joy of attending the Toronto Blue Jays home opener. It was a very exciting game with the players and fans shouting and cheering for each player as they took their turn at bat or made a great catch. There was so much enthusiasm that you might have thought it was a play-off game and not the first in a 160-game season. I watched the team lift each other up and I shouted along with them until I had no voice.
Later, thinking about the fired-up Blue Jays players supporting each other, I realized that separating parents would benefit from adopting a team attitude. During the separation process parents experience some of their toughest times and remembering to be a good teammate is a clear and familiar way to behave.
Although I am a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays, this analogy is not restricted to sports teams, if you prefer to think of co-parents as a small orchestra or arts collective the same logic applies. Co-parents are a pair that that works towards the shared goal of raising children that thrive.
Here are some features of teams and teammates that co-parents would be wise to adopt:
· The team succeeds or flounders depending on the efforts of all the members.
· Teammates set each other up for success.
· Teammates practice with each other.
· Teammates participate in the same training routines.
· Teammates receive guidance from competent coaches.
· Each team member plays to their strengths while still being able to step into a different role when needed.
· Being a teammate reduces stress as responsibilities are shared.
· Teammates work hard to improve.
· Teammates have shared enthusiasm and commitment.
Similarly, some aspects of poor teamwork will harm a coparenting relationship. For example, going rogue, using secret plays, or bad-mouthing teammates are as detrimental to coparents as they are to sports teams.
This metaphor may feel simplistic. It is, and for a reason. When times are tough, worries are high, and emotions are raw keeping things simple is effective. Over the past dozen years, I have seen many parents who doubt that their former spouse will be a good team player or a good co-parent. I have also seen that parents can learn to be or practice being a better team player when the wellbeing of their children is the prize.
Good teams make it look easy, but we all know that there is a great deal of effort and practice happening in the background. When a parent feels lost and wonders what it takes to protect their children through separation, keep it simple. Remember parents are on the same team, and working towards the same goal of raising independent, kind, and happy people. Practice makes perfect.