s a parent, you know that you are influential to your children.
And rightly so, which is why we set-up rules for your kids as well as your agreement with your previous Partner.
It’s great to be flexible but there needs to be a baseline or a foundation to start from, and that foundation are rules that influence those you love.
In fact, you might be the biggest influence on your child and not even know it.
But what about the influences on YOU? What are the biggest things that modify your behavior? What things impress or perturb you, personally?
Some things might be excruciatingly obvious while others are lurking in the background.
I’m sure that you’ve heard the hypothesis that you are a combination of your five closest friends. I think it was Jim Rohn who was famous for coming up with that one.
I also was reading a scientific study that talked about how friends of friends even can penetrate your sphere of influence. Which is good news for you because you have enough self-awareness to make yourself into the best Parent you can be.
Basically, you are who you are around.
In a way, you are a patchwork quilt, if you will, of your closest friends.
I got the idea of the patchwork quilt from my mentor Eben Pagan. He was talking about this in the context of business, so things like Money, Health and Relationships were the situation he was mentioning it in, which I guess pretty much sums up life - Parent or not.
And I totally get it... as I had kids, my sphere of influence changed. When they started school, it changed even more. As they got older and their friendships became more “serious” it got even different still.
I’m sure we’ve all had that experience where we take our kids over to a sleepover or we pick them up from a playdate and there are other parents there that know each other.
Suddenly it feels like YOU are the one who is the odd-one out. I mean, we’re adults and all, but it still can feel like you aren’t privy to their inside jokes and whatnot. But that doesn’t last as long, or maybe it does and as an adult I don’t let it bother me as much.
So, how can we tip this into our favor?
What are the things we can do to not only influence us into making better choices, but to expand our scope of clout when it comes to how we interact with our “Partarant”?
If you’ve missed the first two episodes of this Podcast, we came up with a term together that I am going to use in this segment as well. This is the term “partarent” and, in a nutshell, it’s referring to the person with whom you co-parent your child. It’s basically a word that is just the combination of “part-time parent” and “ex-partner”. The intention is that this term transcends gender is just simply a shortcut term for the person you co-parent with.
Okay, let’s get back to how we’re going to make our patch-work quilt work in our favor:
This is a double-edge sword because what we want relate to others but at the same time avoid a “woe's me posse”... you know, those friends who you became friends with over misery? I’ve had a few of those in my past, especially when it came to my partarant leaving the family. But at the same time, you want to be able to relate.
Well, let me say, relating on misery only brings more misery. And what’s even weirder is that I several of my friends try to “one-up” each other when it comes to misery! Can you believe it?
Okay, so if we don’t want to talk about our misery, but be relatable let’s change the level at which we relate: Start with being your gender. I’m a man, so I can relate to guys that way. Next try relating about kids: “Oh, you have a boy too?”.
Look, I know this might sound hokey, but it’s a way to solidly start off when relating to others and really choosing the people we hang out with.
But the real pay-off comes when we connect with people that not only support us, but that are farther along in life, wisdom and experience than we are.
We want to hang out with people who are at a level beyond us. I won’t go so far as to call them “mentors” because it’s been my experience that everyone with a child wants to “mentor” you when it comes to raising your child.
It works both ways, in that you rub off on the friends you hang around as well.
So, choose those whom are part of your patchwork quilt wisely.
Aside from the obvious things like you get along with them, they lift you up and really support you as a parent, you will want to look at the not-so-obvious traits like are they wise with their money, how they treat food and, the most important of all: How they treat others.
I have a hypothesis that I’ve been working on for a few years that I’m going to describe to you in a little bit more detail in just a second. The hypothesis is a way of speaking such that you do not Criticize and offer sincere Praise.
Let’s unpack this so that i can explain a little further.
Don’t criticize a person for having a different opinion than you. This might seem hard in the moment because it’s been my experience that everyone has some sort of advice for you when it comes to not only raising your kid, but also about your relationship with your Partarent.
I lost track of the times that my friends begged and pleaded with me to get a custody document about my kids. And like I mentioned in the second episode of this Podcast, I didn’t need one.
And when I say that, it’s not an arrogant response, it’s that it just wasn't necessary.
The reason why you don’t want to criticize someone is because the moment that you say something negative about what they are doing or something they said, you’re dehumanizing them. You are taking just a tiny portion of their personal self-worth away, and God knows we can all use as much of that as we can get.
Just remind yourself that everyone’s opinion matters, even if you don’t agree with them. Regardless of the intensity to which they are reprimanding you or criticizing you for the way you are raising your kid, it’s just an opinion and you don’t need to agree with them. By the same token, you don’t have to say anything either.
So, alternatively to criticising, what should you do? That’s a great question.
I’ve found that the next step either comes super natural to some folks or they need to really open themselves up to it. Either way this lands for you, try it on a couple times and see how it lands for you.
Offer Sincere Praise
The opposite of being critical is praising. And it doesn’t need be lavish or outspoken, which is often what I think of when it comes to “praising”.
And not just “praise” for the sake of having something to say, try throwing out some sincere accolades. This could be in the form of a “kudos” of some kind. If you can’t think of anything, maybe just choose a kind word or a compliment to someone.
This will almost instantly diffuse any situation in which someone is being negative or critical when you are speaking to them.
This is the place where I offer up gratitude as the ultimate antidote to someone being critical or condescending towards you.
Another way to look at it is that criticizing is negative language and praising is positive language.
Mature Boundary and Inner Control
If I was to wrap this up with an overarching thought that encompasses all of this, I would say that in order to successfully co-Parent in a world that wants you to have all the control and all of the power, you need need to have a Mature Boundary.
This means that you have a boundary, like a limit of what you are exposed to and, more specifically, how people and events enter into your life. Just like we talked about choosing your friends wisely, which is what I’m really saying, your Boundary that comes with maturity must be solid enough to not be shaken by the drama that occurs in life.
Drama is going to happen. People are going to have opinions and say some really mean and hateful things. On top of that, everyone is going to voice their ideals and even seem to act offended when you don’t follow their suggestions.
Another way I’ve heard to work within this is to be a mirror and not a vacuum.
A mirror reflects, while a vacuum sucks… but a vacuum also cleans up.
The way you get your mature boundary is through inner control.
So, let’s say that a friend is feeling angry because of something they think you did, but you didn’t do it nor are you responsible for whatever happened. The Vacuum that cleans up just accepts their anger with a response like “I shouldn’t have done that” or “I’m really sorry”.
Recognize your friends anger, but don’t internalize it or make it your own. When it comes to just about any form of successful communication, humans really just want to be heard.
The mirror would click down a little further with a response like “You seem angry. What can I do to help you?”. You understand that people aren’t perfect and rather than take this on yourself or be judgemental or critical about it, you know that they are projecting their internal issues on you or just outward in general.
If this feels weird at first, just be with it. I really want to emphasis that being a mirror isn’t to show disdain or dissatisfaction. It’s not in a “have to” kind of way.
It’s in a way where it’s completely natural for you to deliver praise more than criticism and even if you are exposed to negativity from friends or co-workers about your co-Parenting situation.
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The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist fears this is true– James Branch