Going through a divorce is difficult, even when things end amicably. But, when you have children with your former spouse, things become even more complicated.
Whether you are assigned a parenting plan by a court of law or you come up with one between the two of you, co-parenting effectively is crucial.
Remember, you’re not the only one that went through a divorce—your kids did, too. Their lives changed. Maybe they had to move into a different house, change schools, or just get used to the fact that their parents don’t live together anymore.
Even if you don’t get along with your ex, putting your children first should be a top priority.
However, that’s often easier said than done. So, what can you do to put your kids first when you and your ex don’t see eye-to-eye?
Keep Conversations Specific
Your conversations with your former spouse should strictly be about the children. In fact, they should only be about very specific things.
Don’t go into a conversation with your ex with a bunch of generalities in mind. Plan what you want to discuss, and stick to that topic. It’s not always easy, especially if they say something to throw you off or try to steer you away. But, by staying on one particular subject as it relates to your kids, you’re more likely to have a productive conversation, rather than an argument that goes nowhere.
Think About What Your Children Need
One of the hardest things you’ll have to do as a co-parent is to swallow your pride from time to time.
Even if you do everything right, every person has strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, if some of your weaknesses are your ex’s strengths, you may have to step back for the sake of your kids.
For example, if you’re not as athletic as your ex, they might be the right person to work with your child who just made the basketball team. If you tend to be more book-smart, you might be the parent that always helps with homework.
Talk to your ex about your collective strengths and weaknesses, and decide who should handle different aspects of your children’s lives.
Don’t Talk Negatively About Your Ex Around Your Kids
If you’re still communicating with your ex, chances are they will do things to get under your skin. And, because you’re only human, you will let those things get to you from time to time.
But, the worst thing you can do is to vent those frustrations to your children. Again, they’re going through a difficult life change, too. They shouldn’t have to be your therapist, and they shouldn’t have to feel the need to “choose” which parent to like based on things they’re hearing from both of you.
If your children ask questions about their other parent, it’s important to be honest, but appropriate. Sometimes, it might be beneficial to have a “family meeting” where you, your ex, and your children all have a discussion so you can openly answer their questions.
Reach Out for Help
Even though you shouldn’t vent to your kids about your struggles, it’s a good idea to talk to someone about them. Having a support system is crucial when you’re dealing with separation and/or custody issues. Lean on family members, friends, or contact a mental health professional.
If you’re recently divorced or separated from your partner, you already have a lot of weight on your shoulders. If you don’t get along with that ex and you have children together, that weight is even heavier.
You don’t have to go through it alone. An experienced co-parenting counselor can help.
Feel free to contact us at 916.740.6424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.