Respectful co-parenting and our nightly reading ritual

In life, and relationships, not everything works out perfectly. And even once impervious relationships can lead to an eventual decline. While this is never easy, for either person in the relationship, it can be especially challenging for the children. The good thing is that with mutual respect for one another and a reboot of an amazing friendship the future for you and your co-parenting family – your family – can be much more optimistic and of richer quality than you may at first believe.

I was recently asked by a friend why, when I choose my words so carefully, I choose to use the word “co-parent” as opposed to other variations of a former partner such as ex, mother of my children, separated, etc. Basically my co-parent and I were best friends who wanted kids together, gave it a go, and it didn’t work out (the nutshell version). I do pick my words carefully and while I’m not a mental health professional in any regard, over the years with the subject matter in books I write, I’ve developed similar traits to indicate positive forward moving discussion. So, while “ex, broken up, former, mother of my children, etc.” may work, we think of each other in a higher context. My co-parent will always be my friend, she will always be in my life, and we have a mutual respect especially regarding the children.

There are many ways to co-parent, but much like we were some twelve years ago, our minds were in sync and the decision made before either of us spoke. Our focus would be to raise the kids together with two loving parents who shared a genuine mutual respect while rebooting an amazing friendship. Yes, we need our own independence, personal time, and both thrive on our own more than we did living under the same roof. But, that doesn’t mean we both can’t have a daily impact on our children’s lives or that our children can’t see mom and dad as caring friends who love them.

In our co-parenting relationship, while early, we’ve already started to develop bonding rituals with our children such as our nightly reading ritual. Each night, we choose 4-5 books and then my co-parent and I take turns reading. The kids are cuddled up to us, we interact with them, and about 15% of the time they actually fall asleep #parentwin!

The books we started with came natural to us and focus on feelings, empathy, and kindness. While the books below are our “foundation” books read every night, we do introduce new books once in awhile.

Our Foundation Books Are:

There are some obvious reasons why my co-parent and I choose to read these books such as building a bond, repeating the importance of kindness, empathy and that feelings are okay, as well as showing our love. What we’ve also found is that we can incorporate these important learnings into the everyday. In fact, one of the most warming feelings I enjoy is when our children are having a difficult time, or are acting out and I see or hear my co-parent sit down next to them and say something like, “What do you think Magic would say?” or “I know you’re upset and it is okay to feel that way.”

When I think of the impression and relationships developed from these books and our co-parenting reading ritual I wish every household had the opportunity to have: I am Human, I am Love, and In My Heart, in their homes. Not only will this promote the importance of reading, but it will also build empathetic skill sets you and your child can use to improve mindfulness.

Of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of books I’ve read I have never come across an opening line of such import that I feel every child and adult should wake up and repeat:

I was born, A miracle! One of billions but unique! by Susan Verde from, I am Human – a Book of Empathy

Today is my birthday, and if you’ve stayed with me throughout this article I have one wish – that you take the time to buy one of these books in the article for a child… then read it to them, over and over and over. The world, and I, will thank you. Links to the book are below.

I am Human – A Book of Empathy

I am Love – A Book of Compassion

In My Heart – A Book of Feelings

Kindness Makes Us Strong

Kindness Rules

Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods that Make My Day

#Shamelessplug

I am a full-time freelance writer specializing in memoirs and autobiographies on mental health, domestic and sexual abuse as well as other topics. I also write blogs, web-content, and handle several other types of projects. To see what I offer visit my rates page or contact me with specific queries and questions. I’m also available to help mentor you through your first book. I’d love to work with you, and if you know anyone else looking for a writer I offer a generous referral fee.

If you would like to leave a donation for people interested in writing a book about their life and challenges, but lack the budget, you can contribute here.

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