What it Means to Eat The Frog After Your Divorce

Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Just like eating a frog, the first step toward co-parenting is often the hardest bite to swallow. But it’s worth it!

Finding Common Ground

For co-authors and exes Ben Heldfond and Nikki DeBartolo, the most difficult step in their collaborative divorce was the decision to meet for coffee.

“I hung up the phone and paced for a while before heading out for the most nerve-wracking coffee date of my life.” ~Ben Heldfond 

Through this coffee date, though, the couple found their common ground: doing whatever was best for their son Asher. 

“Sitting in that coffee shop that day, we made a vow and a commitment to put Asher first, no matter what happened in the whole process. Whatever decisions we had to make, we had to ask ourselves how they would affect Asher. It was the primary lens, the single platform, from which we would build everything.” ~Nikki DeBartolo

During the rest of this meeting, Ben and Nikki apologized to each other – something else they never thought they would do. Their decisions to set up joint custody and work together to do whatever was best for Asher would never have happened if they both hadn’t chosen to eat the frog. 

How to Eat the Frog

When you’re ready to begin working together as co-parents, remember a few things:

  • Leave your ego at the door. Successful co-parents own their part in the divorce, and leave their egos out of their new relationship. You may not always see eye to eye, but leaving your ego at the door keeps you from placing blame on each other.
  • Focus on forgiveness. Before you can eat the frog, you need to embrace forgiveness. This means forgiving your ex, but more importantly, forgiving yourself. When you don’t forgive yourself and your ex, you can carry feelings of bitterness and resentment that make it harder to collaborate with your co-parent. 
  • Separate your feelings. Co-parents know that their interactions with each other are not about their personal feelings. Every conversation and decision is about what is best for the kids. When you can separate your feelings about your ex from these decisions, it’s easier to put the kids first. 
  • Check-in often. The ages and maturity of your kids will determine how much interaction you need to have with your co-parent. Depending on your custody schedule you may decide to check in with your ex face to face during transfers. Or, you may rely on co-parenting apps with messaging services if speaking face to face is still too difficult. However you need to do it, make sure you are communicating openly with your co-parent so that you’re both able to make important parenting decisions.
After a divorce, finding the motivation to work together with your co-parent can be difficult. But, it’s important to work on forgiving each other and beginning to communicate about the kids as quickly as possible. As co-parents, you have committed to putting the kids first. To do this, it’s time to eat the frog and find a way to work together as quickly as possible.

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