So you’ve separated with your former spouse – the divorce is done, you’re both living separately, and a custody agreement has been worked out. While you may dream of never seeing your ex-partner again, there’s one important part of your lives that will always require you to interact – your kids.
No matter how or why your marriage ended, the topic of your children can pose some tricky issues. You don’t want to subject them to the issues you have with your ex, but it may be difficult to put on a happy face every time you drop them off at their house for the weekend, or you need to work together to plan a birthday party. What are the best ways to keep the peace?
Co-parenting is a different experience for all divorced parents. For some it works like a dream, with both parents present at the child’s school award event and birthday parties, and for others it simply involves tolerating each other to the best of their ability. Every divorce is different, and therefore there are different tips needed for different situations.
1. Don’t badmouth the other parent in front of your kids.
Even if your ex-spouse lied, argued, and cheated; badmouthing them in front of your kids will only make them upset. It’s normal to feel these negative emotions towards your ex no matter how the marriage ended, but try to keep the bad comments away from the children you had together. If you need to speak to somebody, venting to a good friend or seeing a counsellor is a good idea.
2. Try not to avoid conversation with your ex.
If you make an effort to make the least amount of conversation with your ex-spouse as possible, this will send the wrong message to your kids. While even young children have the capacity to understand that you are no longer together, they may be hurt by the fact that you aren’t communicating at all. Ask them what their plans are for the coming time, how they’ve been, maybe even discuss the lives of your kids to show them both of you still care for them very much.
3. Try to come to agreements together.
Disagreements between parents, even after they’ve split, can be a large reason as to why children may feel distressed. Making decisions when you no longer see eye-to-eye can be a difficult ordeal, but when you both realise you’re doing it for your kids, it may make it a lot easier.
4. Reassure your children that they are loved.
Reassure your children that, despite everything that’s happened, both parents love them very much. Divorce can be a confusing concept to grasp for younger children, this is why it’s a good idea to remind them of what’s really important, and that the divorce does not change that both parents love and care for them.
5. Keep the spotlight on your childrens’ best interests.
You may wish to never speak to your ex again, but at the end of the day, you both love your children and will likely do anything for them. Keep mutual respect towards each other, because after all, they are the other parent to your children. Try to make the activities your ex-spouse has planned for the kids just as exciting as your own activities, and try not to get emotional when dropping your children off at their place for the next few days; as difficult as that may seem.
No matter the situation, divorce is never easy; even though it may seem like it in some situation, your former spouse is experiencing the same feelings you are. As long as you are trying to remain friendly at least for the sake of your kids, you’re already doing a fantastic job at parenting.