By Audrey Cade
Most people know the difference between a personal versus a professional relationship. A personal relationship is usually a friendship that includes voluntary sharing of time, knowing intimate details about one another, and is a more relaxed partnership wherein the parties can be their true, uninhibited self. A professional relationship tends to be more reserved. Information is more guarded, people tend to be on their best behavior, and the relationship is usually confined to specific times and places.
Have you noticed that people you associate with as business colleagues aren’t always individuals you would choose to socialize with outside of a meeting? You may not have much in common with them on a personal level; but, you manage to accomplish goals together because you have a mutual benefit in the success of your professional partnership.
I may not have much in common with Brenda in accounting or my client, Carl; but, I know that if I need to get a job done, we can push personal feelings aside to take care of business.
Now, imagine you are divorced and facing a decade of continuing to interact with your ex to raise children you share.
The prospect of frequent conversations with someone you can barely stand, let alone sitting together during a dance recital or agreeing on a child’s medical issue can seem nearly impossible!
Let me invite you to consider rearranging your thought processes related to your relationship with your ex. Obviously, a divorce won’t succeed in erasing this person from your life when you are required to co-parent; but, this does not mean that you must suffer all the way until your child’s high school graduation. Your personal relationship with your ex was not successful, as evidenced by your divorce; but, this does not mean that you and your ex cannot still have a very positive and effective relationship — as a business!
Think about business partners:
- They share a common mission and goals.
- They may have a product or service that their company produces or offers.
- They discuss issues related to the success of their business without letting personal feelings cloud their judgment and interfere with their ability to work.
- They stay focused on the task at hand to do what must be done.
So, what would co-parenting look like, applying a business model?
- The parents share a common interest in promoting the happiness and well-being of their “product”: the children.
- The goal of the “business” is to raise their product to be well-adjusted, independent, happy, and healthy.
- When the parents have a conversation, they focus strictly on the needs of the children and such things as schedules, school, behavioral concerns, and topics about the children.
- The parents do not become preoccupied with the past, personal feelings for one another, criticism of each other’s lives, or anything not related to their kids.
Why should you consider becoming a “business” partner with your ex?
- Conflict will be limited because the scope of your interaction is directed where it belongs: on the kids.
- The business model forces parents to act in the best interest of the child and the shared desire for them to have what they need.
- Parents can model positive and peaceful conflict resolution and cooperation.
- Professional, appropriate behavior tends to encourage the same from other parties. In short, if I am cooperative, offer good communication, and keep things positive, you are more likely to return the favor.
As with real businesses, every partnership must find its own way to become as productive and successful as possible. Few businesses operate without a hitch on their first day. Especially if you’ve been in battle as a divorced former couple, it will take time to overcome the hard feelings of the past and adopt new ways of associating.
With patience and perseverance, you can see tremendous returns on your investment. You will be less apprehensive about exchanges with your ex, your children will become more calm and secure in the knowledge that mommy and daddy can get along and have their priorities in the right place.
Businesses remain successful through willingness to adapt with the times. If the way you and your ex co-parent is stressful and ineffective, it may be time to take the business approach!
About the Author
Audrey Cade is the author of “Divorce Matters: help for hurting hearts and why divorce is sometimes the best decision” (on Amazon) and the matriarch of a blended family of eight. She is an experienced “divorce warrior” in the areas of co-parenting, step parenting, parental alienation, and re-marriage, and enjoys sharing these experiences with others who are also committed to raising happy and healthy kids. Audrey’s professional experience is as a case manager social worker with the developmentally disabled, families with young children, and homeless populations. She holds degrees in Early Childhood Education, Human Service & Management, and a Master’s in Psychology. She enjoys family outings, a variety of arts and crafts, cooking, gardening, and writing. She is a featured blogger for Divorced Moms, has work regularly appearing on Divorce Force, and articles appearing in Step Mom Magazine, The Good Men Project, and others.