OBF Parenting Pledge
OBF believes that all parents who belong to a blended family should recognize the characteristics of an unselfish parental relationship. We ask that you pledge to do the following:
1. I pledge to take care of myself. Change starts with you! To effectively care for your child, you must first care for yourself -- your emotional, physical, and mental health. Recall what flight attendants announce to passengers before a flight, "Secure YOUR oxygen mask first before you secure your child's oxygen mask!"
2. I pledge to show love for my child as often as possible with healthy communication. Children typically measure how much their parents love them by how much contact they have with that parent. Sometimes a simple text message, FaceTime session, or interactive play via a cellphone game can keep a parent connected to their child when unable to visit.
3. I pledge to ensure that my child knows that they did not cause the breakup or separation between their other parent and myself. Be vocal about how much you love them. Tell your child that the problems you had with the other parent were "adult problems" and had nothing to do with them.
4. I pledge to work with my co-parent to create continuity and predictability in my child's life. Working together to reduce the number of major changes for children helps give them continuity and stability. Avoid unnecessary changes in routines and create a shared calendar at both households that show the daily or weekly activities at each location.
5. I pledge to foster a healthy relationship with my child's relatives (my co-parent's family). Invite and welcome others into your child's life who will love, support, and encourage them; Children need the love and support of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The co-parent's family needs to feel that they can love the child and incorporate them into their family. An extended family network can increase your child's support system and their odds of success in life. Recognize that their support system may help you as well.
6. I pledge to be honest with my child about my mistakes. Children are smarter than you think! It's okay to apologize to your child when you make a mistake because it teaches them that humility and integrity are important. For example, apologizing for small mistakes (such as being wrong about the time of an event) shows a child that you respect them, that mistakes happen and that lessons can be learned from those mistakes.
7. I pledge to allow my child "to be a child"; I will not include them in adult conversations. Be aware that children often hear adult conversations. It's always okay to leave the room during tense conversations with your co-parent or make your child leave. This will reduce the chances of your child hearing you possibly "bad mouth" the other parent. Remember that your child is a part of the other parent; when you speak negatively about the other parent, the child often internalizes it. Many children are often told by others "you look just like your mother," or "you act just like your father." Speaking negatively about the other person in front of your child can be harmful to their self-esteem.
8. I pledge to make an effort to be a good role model for my children. Children often imitate adult behavior, particularly from those people that they spend the most time with. No one is perfect, but you should work hard to emulate positive, adult behavior.
9. I pledge to be respectful of my co-parent. You may not always agree, so learn to disagree in a respectful manner. Children learn early how to socialize and interact with the opposite sex from male and female behavior that their parents’ model.
10. I pledge to practice "parental selflessness." Your child's relationship and time with the other parent are important. Do not schedule events for your child on the other parent's days or weekends; it shows selfishness and a lack of respect for the co-parenting relationship. Respect time and commitments made by the other parent. Practice family unity during your child’s extra-curricular events (basketball games, school plays, etc.) by sitting near the other parent and /or their family and guests. It shows your child that they have a team or “cheering section” that loves them, despite their parents' relationship status.
11. I pledge to not show jealousy regarding the time that my child spends with my co-parent, their partner, and their family. Children must feel comfortable sharing their experiences away from home; this fosters honesty and a close parent/child bond. Don't interrogate your child about their visits with the other parent and allow them to share their delight about a visit in a supportive manner. For example, say "I'm glad you had fun today with XX."
12. I pledge to allow my child to love their other parent. Children need to know that it is OK for them to love both parents even if their parents no longer love each other. Children benefit when parents encourage the relationship between the children and the other parent.
13. I pledge to recognize that relationships do not involve money. If you are owed child support by the other parent, do not withhold visits with your child. In-kind support (offering to help in other ways instead of offering money) can often assist in raising a child. For example, the other parent may not be able to give $50 this week but offers to pick the child up after school for a week instead. Even if you do not deduct the amount from any arrears (collect what is owed to you!), appreciate that the parent is offering other forms of care.
14. I pledge to respect my co-parent's space. You cannot dictate what happens in someone else's home. As long as nothing illegal or immoral is occurring (there's a thin line for morality), the other parent can raise your child under their rules without interference from you. If you normally have bible study on your weekends with your child, respect that the other parent does not have to do the same. This is sometimes hard to swallow for parents, but you cannot "run" someone else's household. Well-rounded children are developed by exposure to different things (culture, food, experiences and activities).
15. I pledge to recognize and use "free time for myself." Learn to relish the time that you are alone when your child is with your co-parent or your co-parent's family. You can use this time to start a new hobby, enjoy time with friends or simply relax!