Separated and Divorced Parents: What a Winner Does

Separated and Divorced Parents:
What a Winner Does

I often see separated or divorced parents who cannot manage to make co-parenting work. They just cannot seem to come together and establish productive communication on behalf of their children. Why is this? And what does it take to successfully meet the challenges of this difficult relationship?

The following are my observations, based on my work with separated or divorced parents.

One winner can change the game and make it work acceptably well for the benefit of the kids. Even better, two winners can literally transform the game and make it work remarkably well both for the kids and for themselves. Together they ensure that the children are not “emotional footballs.”

What constitutes a winner? A winner is a parent who wins the personal challenge of getting the best of his/her own ego. A winner does not win a battle against the other parent. A winner wins the battle against his/her own self – specifically, his/her own ego, or the “little me,” as Eckhart Tolle says. A winner changes the way s/he plays the difficult game of co-parenting by consistently treating the ex and the children with integrity.

Here are some of the more important positive characteristic behaviors of a winner.


• Acts civilly, even respectfully
• Maintains personal integrity
• Does what s/he says
• Follows through
• Avoids the past
• Focuses on present and future
• Provides suggestions for making it work
• Provides verifiable information
• Agrees to disagree
• Agrees to compromise
• Puts kids first
• Readily makes concessions
• Leaves grandparents out of squabbles
• Exercises self-control at all times


• Make snide remarks
• Criticize, scold, or belittle the other
• Criticize the other to the kids
• Bring up past hurts
• Discount the other’s statements
• Avoid the other’s questions
• Make negative interpretations
• Avoid decisions and commitments
• Use the kids to communicate
• Make money the priority
• Exaggerate, lie, or distort
• Argue the “facts”
• Use the past to denigrate the other
• Give decision-making power to the attorneys

In short, winning is the process of overcoming one’s ego, as opposed to overcoming the other parent.

For a detailed presentation of the 9 key relationship skills needed in all healthy adult-adult or parent-child relationships, see the details of my book, 3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony.

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