What do divorce and the Kung Fu have in common?  Well, I watched the movie Karate Kid (the new version) with my daughter the other day and there are some good lessons in there.  Dre, the Karate Kid, tells his mom that he’s going to be learning Kung Fu and she says something like “what have I told you about fighting?”.  He replies “it’s not about fighting, it’s about making peace with your enemies”.  I like that line a lot.  That’s exactly how divorcing parents should look at dealing with each other. 

“Kung Fu” means expertise in a skill achieved through hard work and practice.  It has also been translated as “patient accomplishment”, because the idea is that it takes time and energy to master a skill.  So let your goal be to have good kung fu in your divorce and co-parenting.  It won’t happen overnight and it won’t happen just because you’d like it to.  You will be required to put in the time and the energy, the sweat and tears, to make it happen.  But you can make it happen.  And you can “bring honor to your family”. 

How does the Karate Kid start his training?  Not by serious workouts or even learning specific martial arts moves.  He starts by doing what seems to be a very mundane task…over and over and over again.  He gets frustrated because it seems like he’s not learning anything.  He wants to see results right away and he can’t see how what he is doing can possibly help him when he goes up against his “enemy” in a competition.  But the teacher tells him to trust him and keep doing the same thing over and over.

Finally, the teacher engages him in a mock fight and shows him that the movements he was doing that seemed so pointless are actually movements that his body can now do effortlessly in a combat situation.  He was learning all along, though he didn’t realize it.

This is precisely how you can create a harmonious situation with your former spouse and your kids.  You simply engage in the every-day, common activities and behaviors that you do anyway with your friends.  But you do them in relation to your ex. 

You treat them respect. 

You communicate regularly and effectively. 

You use constructive criticism if needed, but refrain from bad-mouthing or dismissing. 

You don’t judge or blame. 

You discuss issues with a desire to find a common resolution. 

You are honest.  

You take care of yourself and ask for help when you need it. 

You pay attention to and consider your children’s needs.

 You notice and appreciate the little things. 

You honor your differences and you keep an open mind. 

You learn from your experiences. 

You hold yourself accountable for your actions.

You celebrate successes.

You won’t see a change overnight and you may wonder if there’s a point to what you’re doing.  I assure you, there is.  Once these behaviors become natural and effortless, you will discover that you are able to effectively handle almost any situation that arises.  You will find that your relationship has improved and you have, in fact, made peace with your “enemy”. 

So you now have permission to use Kung Fu with your ex spouse.  Get started today practicing patient accomplishment….wax on, wax off, wax on, wax off….