By Tammy Gallegos Bennett, Founder, Christian CoParenting
This week's Super Bowl reminds me of a great, great lesson that we can all learn from football! I’m a visual learner and I always think in visual pictures. We have all seen the movies where the coach is writing on the chalkboard and mapping out his game plan for the next quarter. The “X” represents one team and the “O” represents another. When he maps out the visual for a quarterback and a receiver it strongly reminds me of coparenting! The quarterback has to think ahead to where the receiver is going to be when he decides to through the ball. The quarterback does not throw the ball to the spot the receiver is “at” when he releases the ball, but to where he is “GOING" - - coparenting is much the same! We make choices, as coparents, that are based on where our children are headed and how we want them to be as adults, not always based on the moment or the circumstances immediately in front of us.
I like to remember this when I am surprised by something my daughter says or does – that my response to her and the words I choose need to be focused on parenting forward, to where she is headed as an adult woman who will one day marry, have children and then be a parent herself. How am I leading her in every moment? Am I showing her a Christ-like example of what I want her to become?
I especially have to remember this when I am presented with interactions, choices and decisions to make with her father and his new wife, her stepmother. Our choices today will affect her future and we must keep in mind the “big picture” when faced with the day-to-day decisions and moments that are sometimes complex and difficult. We all have to look above the offense/defense mindset and the complicated challenges of life and stay focused on the clear vision of the goal post at the end of the field. We (all of our coparenting team) have to work together “as” a team to carry and lead her through life!
Parenting forward also means that we anticipate where our daughter is headed: I know that one day we will all be sitting at her high school graduation, then moving her into a dorm room, cheering for her through college and then she will (prayerfully) walk down the aisle and begin a new life with someone very special. One day she will be in the delivery room and her first child will be on its way, her family will grow and her responsibilities will multiply and she will find herself trying to stretch her time not only between her own parents and extended families, but also her new spouses’ parents and his extended family.
Coparenting does not end when she turns 18 or graduates from high school. Coparenting will go on for her entire lifetime. Her father and I (and all stepparents that are added) will want to be part of each of these important life experiences and we will want to celebrate each joy and share in each tear. It can seem a bit overwhelming to think that far ahead, but in the big picture of life it is a fact that we will ALL be on this journey together for years and years to come. Therefore, it is all the more important to ‘parent forward’ and make decisions today that will give her the most stable and healthy foundation to build her life on in her journey into adulthood.
Ideally, if every member of the coparenting “team” can have this mindset, the biological parents as well as any stepparents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, caretakers, teachers and extended family members, then the process can be more positive and enjoyable by everyone! Looking beyond the moment to where the child is headed is crucial to being able to respond with perspective in mind! It’s all about the child’s heart and how the heart can make it through the life journey without being fumbled, dropped or broken by the coparenting team.
Begin with the end in mind: a whole, healthy, well-adjusted adult who will make great choices in his/her relationships, future parenting and overall life decisions.
Build a Team as CoParents! Protect the Heart! Choose to Parent Forward!
A companion in the process,
Tammy Gallegos Bennett, Founder