We’ve all heard it a hundred times–how important it is to stay neutral and not bash on the other parent. We KNOW in our heads how we need to remain as detached and “middle-ground” as possible, all while being compassionate and committed parents. It can be a lot easier to stay neutral in theory than it is to do it in real life!
The divorced parents, or the two-household family seems to be a perfect set-up for diverse ideas about parenting and with all the waters that have run under the bridge, it can be so hard to be mellow and neutral about everything. I know for a fact that I am a protective mother bear regardless of whether I am hearing that my children were hurt or upset by a stranger or by things that have gone down at the other house. Even when I manage to keep my mouth shut, I may still be seething and stressing inside.
One of the main challenges of staying neutral is figuring out when to intervene and when to take a back seat. Of course, it the child’s safety is an issue then intervention is the only way, but for many other issues that may pop up, it may seem less clear what a parent should do. What I have learned is that if I have concerns, I take them to the other parent instead of sharing them with the child. This way, the child is out of the middle and I can remain neutral–at least on the surface.
Additionally, I give myself time to mull things over before I respond. Instead of flying off the handle and calling the other parent to find out “what is really going on?” I have found it helps to give things a little time to settle. I can often either see things more realistically after a cooling period, or I can come up with a less aggressive way to approach the problem. Meanwhile, we can assure our child that we have heard her, are concerned about how she is feeling, and in a neutral, un-charged way, will talk things over with the other parent.