The amazing thing about having children is, they are lifelong. So is divorce.
Sometimes the relationship that brought this life into being is not lifelong. Unfortunately during today’s time more often than not, they do end.
When divorce happens it is a life changing event. It envelopes you in anger and resentment. Then shortly after transforms into an inferno of jealousy, followed by resentment, self doubt and heartache.
During this time when emotions are agonizing and raw we have to be vigilant. We have to be vigilant with not only our emotions but the very sensitive emotions of our children as well.
A parental breakup is a devastating and life changing event for a child. It disrupts there feeling of safety they have in their family.
To your child separation from either parent is terrifying.
1. Do Not Criticize In Front Of The Children
Avoid criticizing your ex in front of your kids. They love both of their parents, and when you try to destroy the other parent, it as if you are attacking a part of them as well.
You are not in charge of how your child feels and you can not tell them how they should feel.
Vent your frustration to your friends, to your co-workers, to a stranger in line. But do not involve you child in the criticism of their other parent.
You may want to talk to your child about your feelings about the other parent to make your feelings understood. However while this may make you feel better if you get to tell your children why the relationship ended it will only cause more issues.
2. Open Up Lines Of Communication
Perhaps it feels as if you are on a different planet from your ex, perhaps you wish they were on another planet. The feelings you have, while justified to you, should not keep you from the importance of communicating with your ex.
Opening up lines of communication is very difficult but is absolutely critical to your child’s development.
Separated parents have a greater responsibility to their children than to their own ego. While you may absolutely hate your ex, you will need to be able to communicate with them.
Extend an olive branch to them and make an attempt to get the lines of communication open.
3. Agree To Disagree
Understanding and being able to communicate are two of the most difficult aspects of co-parenting you will need to deal with. There will be other step parents that will start to be involved in your child’s life. This can make things difficult and tedious to navigate. You may not agree with everything your ex does and they may not agree with everything that you do.
This is where you just have to agree to disagree.
You will not raise your children the same way in two separate households. You will have disagreements sometimes on what is best for the kids. Remember first and foremost the child is what matters. Take the hurt or resentment and bury it. It no longer matters, what is important is your child’s life. This is difficult to do, but it is a necessity.
If you are stuck in the past neither you or your child will be able to rebuild a life.
4. Go To Your Child’s Activities Together
When your child has an extra curricular activity attend it. Even if you have serious animosity toward your ex, it truly means something to your child. When they see their parents, even parents that are no longer together it does have a meaningful impact on them.
Your child both wants and needs both of your support. Their life has also become more difficult and they had nothing to do with it becoming that way. They are innocent casualties in the war of separation.
However when you are able to set those differences aside and support your child in their activities.
It tells your child that they are important enough for you to be there for them, even when it is difficult.
5. Agree To Enforce Rules Set By Both Parents
Agreement on key rules should be a priority in any co-parenting relationship.
While you and your ex will differentiate in rules, a common core of rules needs to be established and upheld in both homes. Rules are critical in your child’s development and keeping a common set of rules at both homes will create a united front for your child.
Not having a united front on rules will have a negative impact in your child’s development. Children very quickly realize that their parents are not communicating and will use this to their advantage. They will find it easier to manipulate their parents to skirt rules if their is not a united approach of enforcement.
6. Find A Way To Communicate
Communication with your ex may be difficult due to interpersonal relationship conflicts. Sometimes things might just be ugly and hurtful between the two of you. Regardless of the conflicts involved communication still needs to be accomplished. With current technology this is much easier to do.
If you are unable to communicate face to face you could go old school and simply use email. While this may seem like an antiquated way of communication between two adults out of the business world, it does have it’s uses. You can attach schedules or scanned items when the need comes up.
You can also easily communicate on the phone or via text messaging although these are more prone to angry engagement if there is not a well functioning co-parenting relationship.
There are also a myriad of social media apps that can be used for communication. Anything with an open or social format should not be used for personal communication between you and your ex. Any application where there is a possibility your child could find what is written should be avoided.
Remember Who This Is For
Co-parenting is not for you. It is not for your benefit, it for your child’s benefit.
The needs of your child outweigh your own. That is part of the deal, and part of the responsibility of being a parent.
Do not let the short term hurt of a ruined relationship damage your child for the rest of their life.
As time passes life will get easier and return to a type of normalcy. Do not lose sight of the this. Your child is depending on you.