When people get divorced they are often angry, bitter, hurt and devastated. Their plans have been foiled and their lifestyle has changed. But in addition to all that, they now have to split their parenting time and co-parent with the very person that caused all the hurt! Your choice of how to co-parent after a divorce can help your kids thrive, or cause them a life of tension and turmoil.
Here are some tips for co-parenting after divorce . . .
Call a Truce – Honestly, if you want different results, you are going to have to call a truce and learn how to get along with your ex. I really want to encourage you to look at them and try to arrive at a position of understanding. They didn’t set out to do anything malicious to you. People do bad things, but they rarely do it with intention to hurt both themselves and others. Try to forgive your ex at least to that level.
Stop Punishing Your Ex – You may still be trying to even the score – long after the divorce papers are signed. I see people doing it all the time, even years after the divorce! While they are pursuing their agenda, they don’t realize the pain they are causing the children. They might be still trying to convince their ex-partner that they were wrong, or still punishing them for wrongs that were committed in the marriage. Why are you still fighting? What are you going to get from that? If you didn’t “win” in the marriage, I sincerely doubt they’ll hear you now that you’re divorced!
See It Through Your Children’s Eyes – Withholding your children from your ex or bad mouthing your ex to the kids might temporarily ease your pain but what are the long term affects? You have to begin to look at things through your children’s eyes instead of looking at them through your hurt, pained eyes. While I am sure you were hurt by whatever happened in your marriage, please don’t perpetuate that hurt by damaging your children in your attempts to get revenge!
Act Civil – Be a civil reasonable person to your ex – even if they are being nasty and vindictive! You be the bigger person and let their bad behavior be what’s left hanging in the air after the exchange. Model for your children how to be respectful and stand up for yourself in a mature, non-reactive way in the face of conflict.
Look, the relationship didn’t go as you had planned. It sucks. But your kids need you to look at things through their eyes and from a bigger, more mature position. Your ex is going to be their parent whether you like it or not. I encourage you to do some proactive damage control and try to work with your ex, instead of continuing to work against them. From a counselor’s perspective, it may be one of the greatest gifts you ever give to your children!