Divorce is hard. Everyone knows that, whether they’ve gone through the process themselves or not. Few things are more difficult than co parenting a child in the wake of a divorce. Two different households often means two sets of rules, two ways of doing things, two very dissimilar lives that don’t meet in the middle. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
It is possible to build a positive co parenting relationship after a divorce, one that provides structure, mutual respect and solid communication. It does require a little groundwork to lay the foundation, and then shared parenting can take place without bickering, undermining each other, or making your children feel like they’re caught in the middle.
Don’t Undermine Your Ex In Front Of Your Kids
You may think that your former partner is one of the most flawed people ever to walk the planet. (And who knows, you may be right!) Regardless of what you may think of them, they are still your children’s other parent, and as such, play a very important role in your kid’s lives.
Children usually love both of their parents very much. Unless there have been specific circumstances, like abuse or domestic violence, that damage the relationship between a child and their parent, children will love both of their parents. Speaking ill of your ex in front of your children will only make them feel bad about themselves and about their love for that parent.
When you think about it, a child is the product of both parents, and when you trash-talk your ex, you are in essence insulting your child. As a result, children are likely to internalize a lot of those insults, which translates into shame, poor self esteem, guilt, and depression. Not only does it damage your parenting relationship with your former spouse, it damages your relationship with your children.
Also, remember that if your children can hear you, they can easily repeat what you are saying. Children can, and often do, share these things with their other parent, and this can cause resentment and friction between you and your ex, making it difficult to build a positive co parenting relationship, and may even require further court proceedings.
Be careful of what you say about your ex when your children are around. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with or support all of their parenting choices (or any other choices, for that matter) but it does mean that you should be respectful in the way you word your disagreement.
Issues like “But mom always lets us eat candy after dinner!” or “But dad doesn’t make us go to bed early on school nights” can be firmly but respectfully handled by explaining some basic facts. You can tell your children that while you and their other parent don’t always agree on what’s best, your rules have to be followed in your house, and despite the fact that you sometimes disagree, you both love them very much and want what’s best for them. This way you can address differences without being disrespectful or petty.
Join us next time when we will be looking in detail at the next item on our list of things to do to build a positive co parenting relationship – Parent to Parent Communication