You and your now ex-spouse likely don’t get along and probably have not been getting along for quite some time now. It’s a significant life change for you, your ex-spouse, and especially for your children. Depending on the age of your children, they are confused and angry at having to split up their time between parents and this is why they deserve a health relationship with both of you if possible. It can be extremely difficult task, but below are tips for enhancing the way you deal with both your children and your ex-spouse in ways that promote a healthy adjustment to this change in your children.
- Effectively communicate: This is key in coordinating together the lives of your children. If you and your spouse are on the same page as far as appointment times, activities, newsworthy events regarding your children, then you have a great shot at successfully co-parenting your children and maintaining for them a tangible level of stability. Incorporate a professional third party for mediation if you feel you and your ex-spouse can no longer effectively communicate, such as a counselor or trusted religious official.
- Remove emotion from your reactions: You will face angering moments in dealing with your ex-spouse, but uncontrolled emotional responses can strain your ability to co-parent effectively for a period of time, and maybe even permanently. Seek alternative ways to release your emotions away from your ex.
- Never place your child in the middle: Forcing your child in the middleman position or forcing your child to choose one of you further damages his or her view of your family. Allow your children to feel a part of a unified family where love for both parents is equally encouraged.
- Find distractions for when you child is with your ex-spouse: Worrying about your children is sometimes unavoidable, but a fixation on his or her absence is not healthy. When your child comes back, this fixation will be palpable for your child, and he or she may grow to feel guilty for leaving you. This is counter productive to the desired outcome where your child looks forward to seeing both parents.
- Be open-minded about parenting strategies: Obviously this does not apply if your ex-spouse is putting your child in immediate danger; this would prompt the help of a third party. However, being able to let the little decisions your ex-spouse makes may be key in avoiding unnecessary confrontations and animosity. Decide if this particular parenting strategy is worth all of the argument.
- Accept that your spouse will not change: No overnight revelations are going to force your ex-spouse into a sudden change that matches the way you’ve always wanted them to be. Your ex is another individual, and it will help your co-parenting to realize you will simply have to work within the confines of your similarities and not fixate so much on your differences.
- Consider normal phases of childhood development before blaming your ex-spouse: If your child is suddenly acting up at the age of 14, this may be due to normal adolescent behavior, and not the direct influence of your ex-spouse. Children will react to new situations differently and independently move through the stages of their life in their own way. Don’t be too quick to place blame on your spouse for natural changes in your child. Instead, use this as an oppoturinuty to relay these new concerns.
- Be willing to include the important people in your ex’s life: You may not particularly like your ex-spouse’s new significant other or members of his or her family, but creating tension between you and them will only install dysfunction in the way your entire family works. These people are a part of your child’s life, and no good will come of establishing sides and forcing your child to choose.