Co-parenting with your former partner needs to be all about the children, and not about your relationship.
Your children should NOT be pawns, messengers, or, casualties of divorce wars! In a perfect world, your children would only know that life is more peaceful with two homes, and that they miss the parent they are not with. That’s it.
Children need to know–and feel–that they are more important than the conflict that is–or, hopefully, was–between their parents. Maintaining that is what effective, conscious co-parenting is all about.
When you co-parent well, you eliminate exposing the children to adult relationship issues. They know mom and dad are not together and choose to live apart. They don’t need further details beyond that. Really!
They may have questions. Answer them in the most age-appropriate–that’s their ages, not yours–way for them to understand the most general issues. No specifics. And, particularly, no blaming, shaming, or defaming your partner in the hearing of your children!
Children have enough to contend with when parents separate. It’s enough to be moving, losing time with their friends, missing the non-custodial parent, feeling uncertain about what’s going on, and not having the right things at the right house. These are kid concerns.
Children NEED NOT and SHOULD NOT be hearing about adult issues. They should NEVER hear one parent say anything negative about the other, directly or within their hearing. In California where I am, every divorce settlement states that clearly.
Whether or not you both chose to live apart, or only one of you made the decision, it’s what you’re doing now. Not engaging your child or children in the ongoing details of the conflict, the disappointments, or the anger is important. It’s not easy, but you’re an adult and that’s what a wise adult would do.
I want to give you some clear guidelines to help you through this. These will help you stay focused on what is important:
- I am the model I want my children to follow. Therefore, everything I do and say demonstrates who I want my children to become. Think of the last week. Were you who you want your children to become?
- I communicate with my ex in the way I want to be communicated with. I choose collaboration and conversation over conflict and acrimony. Were you open-minded and collaborative?
- I focus on my children and what keeps them healthy, physically, mentally, and emotionally. That includes doing what is in their best interests first. Were you child-focused?
- I turn my attention from what I don’t like about my ex to what s/he does well for the children. It’s about the kids, not what my personal issues are with my ex. What were you dwelling on?
- My children have the right to be children, concerned only with age-appropriate thoughts, feelings, and actions. I protect them from beings pawns, messengers, or, casualties of my divorce. Did you?
It can be difficult to rise up and be your best self when everything in you wants to blame, shame, and complain. I know. I’ve been divorced, too. You may have deep resentments after years of a rocky marriage, or, fresh scars that the divorce brought on. And, it feels like that ex should pay dearly for it, and for a long time. Leave that to the court. You have to get your head on straight and do what is best for your kids.
It has to be–or quickly become–the case that your love for your children is stronger than your hatred or loathing of your partner and the divorce. Then, you will be able to master successful co-parenting, and give your children the best emotional environment in which to thrive. They deserve that. They didn’t ask for a divorce!
Need help to shift your co-parenting from war to peace? You can schedule an appointment online with Dr. Rhoberta Shaler at http://OptimizeCenter.com/join Choose your time. Meet on Skype from anywhere.