In the previous post about developing a parenting plan around your child, Kathleen Christensen shared that the relationship between her and her ex had gotten so bad at one point that Kathleen would only talk about substantive issues if they were meeting with their lawyers or their psychologist. Amazingly, Kathleen says, now, after three years of living apart they are able to talk to each other and be flexible, without professionals being present. Here’s what she said when I interviewed her:
Yeah, now we do talk outside the counselor’s office and that’s sort of a miraculous thing. I’m trying to remember when something came up where we had to be flexible. There was one year when our daughter and I were going to go to California, where my family is, for winter break. It snowed so much we couldn’t leave and I thought,
’Oh my god. We have to depart from all this prearranged structure that we put so much effort into.’
But it was OK. We were able to actually talk and make decisions. He was flexible and we came up with a plan.
It feels so amazing to me that we can actually be flexible and we are flexible a lot of the time. I think it helps that we have a very detailed schedule for where our daughter is when. We went through every holiday we could think of and it’s every other year for Christmas, Thanksgiving and Fourth of July. I think it helps to have a default. It creates some safety for us. But we’re often changing things around. For example, my ex has an adult daughter from his first marriage and she has two sons who are about the same age as our daughter. My ex and our daughter went to stay with his other daughter one year at Fourth of July and they’ve gone out two more times now for the Fourth. It was supposed to be every other year but it’s not a big holiday for me and it’s a great time for them to visit with her.
It’s feels so good knowing that we are able to be flexible.
The Divorce Coach Says
A number of the women I’ve spoken to have found that at first they’ve stuck quite rigidly to the parenting plan but then over time have become more flexible whether it’s to meet the child’s needs or other family commitments. Holly’s Parenting after divorce gets easier with time comes to mind. She and her ex became more flexible once they felt secure that their son loved them both and that they were both willing to share him. It’s over four years now since my own divorce, and my ex and I are much more flexible than we were and because the children are older, I think we’re more likely to seek their input also.
I have no professional expertise here so this is just my opinion – I do think the conventional divorce process breeds distrust and that means it does take time after the divorce to build that trust in your ex. Once that trust is there, then it’s easy to be flexible and that is definitely in the best interest of your children. Kathleen used the collaborative divorce process, and from the sounds of it, I think that has much more potential for building a better foundation for a positive ongoing relationship.
Kathleen is a fellow blogger – she writes about the challenges of daily life with ADD at her Head in the Clouds blog so do hop over there and visit with Kathleen. You can also follow her on Twitter – @kathwriter.