Guest post by Sylvia Smith
You and your ex may have divorced each other, but there is still something major that will connect you for the rest of your lives—your children. Whether you like it or not, you two are stuck in this co-parenting thing. It’s time to make the most of it!
While your marriage and divorce may not have ended well, it is possible for you both to come together in harmony for the sake of your children. So vow to put differences aside and agree that you both do want happy children. The details of how to do that may differ a little between the two of you, and that’s okay. It’s time to negotiate and work together as best you can so your children will know they have two parents who love them. Here are some ways to have successful and positive co-parenting after divorce:
Do What is Right for the Kids
Remember what you are doing all of this for—the kids. You may feel like lashing out at your ex and denying certain privileges, but in the end you are just harming your kids in the process. No matter how much you dislike your ex, they are still your children’s parent. Allow that relationship to happen. Of course, if there are valid concerns about the safety of your children, talk to your lawyer. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of you putting your personal feelings aside and doing the right thing.
Your Attitude is Everything
It’s bad enough that your children have to be shuffled around between you and your ex; so make that transition as simple as possible. Your attitude is everything here. Of course you’re sad when they leave, but try not to make it a big deal. Keep goodbyes short and sweet, and don’t sabotage the time they have with your ex by throwing a fit or being negative. When you do have them, take advantage of that time together. Don’t wallow in the fact that your marriage didn’t work out; try to build a new and happy life now.
Be Supportive of Your Ex’s Positive Efforts
Co-parenting is rough; though you aren’t married, you do both have a common goal. So be as supportive as you can to your ex. They certainly need it. If you see positive things happening, point them out. At the same time, be careful not to get caught up in any of their drama. Just focus on the positive, and hopefully positive things will continue and even increase.
Never, Ever Put Down Your Ex
You’ll definitely feel tempted to say rude things about your ex under your breath or even out loud for the world to hear. This is the time to hold those in, especially if your children are around, or word could get back to them about what you said. They are very impressionable, and they are figuring out what this new life is. They don’t need that influence in their life. You could also change your perspective. Instead of, “What an idiot,” you could say, “Next time that happens, please call me.”
Remember It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
As you both are figuring out your own personal lives post-divorce, which is hard enough, you also have to figure out how to co-parent. It’s tough. There will be mistakes. There will be miscommunication. Try to keep it all in perspective. You’re both in it for the long haul, and so try not to let the little things get to you. Breathe, and take it one day at a time. If there is miscommunication, learn from it. If there are behavior issues, figure out how to address them. Things won’t ever be perfect, but with some hard work you can have happy, well-adjusted children.
Discuss Issues Away From Children’s Ears
You’ll have times where you need to hash out details of pick up, drop off, homework, electronic usage, and on and on. Discuss what you will, but always do it away from your children’s ears. They don’t need to be involved in that process of deciding. Once you have decided, then it is time to present the decision to them, and letting them know you are united on it. This helps to set very clear boundaries. Always make sure to write these things down (email to your ex, then on paper for your child) so there is no skewing of the rules by any party.
Talk to Your Kids
They need your listening ear now more than ever. They need to know that you are there for them emotionally as well as physically. So be there! Put down the phone, shut off the TV. And then just listen. Really hear what they are saying. Celebrate them for the amazing people they are, and help them whenever they are in need. Encourage your ex to do the same.
Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples in therapy. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is currently associated with Marriage.com, a reliable resource assisting millions of couples to resolve their marital issues. She holds a Master’s Degree in Arts (Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy).
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