Divorce is an emotionally charged event in anyone’s life but the stakes are much higher when there are children involved. While it can be difficult to put aside raw and painful emotions and act in the best interest of the children, you can and must do just that. Below are a few tips that will help you focus energy on the importance of the task at hand.
Dealing with the Ex-Spouse
The most difficult part of any divorce is dealing with your former spouse. You once had very strong, loving feelings towards this person with whom thought you were going to spend the rest of your life. You know each other so well that it adds another complicated layer to the relationship.
While it is completely understandable that you would have negative emotions towards your ex, you need to shift towards a more child-focused, civil-type relationship if you are going to effectively co-parent with that person. This means you must separate your hurt and anger from the situation at hand.
When you can do that, you can rise above any manipulation or pettiness on their part.
The most important rule of co-parenting is to never force your children to choose between you and your ex. Even though you may no longer love your former spouse, your children’s love for mom or dad is still there. Never speak ill of the other parent in front of the children.
If you put them in the middle or force them to act as the messenger, you run the risk of your children resenting you for placing them in the middle.
Another important rule of co-parenting is consistency between the two households. While you do not have to do everything exactly the same it is important to have some consistency in discipline and house rules. Knowing they can expect the same from both of you prevents the children from trying to pit you against your former spouse.
If your children are not near enough for you to see them regularly, it is crucial to keep contact with them on a regular basis. If they are old enough to have internet, video calls on skype and google+ are great ways to stay connected when you can’t physically be with them.
At some point, you or your former spouse may remarry, bringing step-parents and maybe even step-siblings into the equation. If you are the one remarrying, it is important that you give your children time to adjust to this new person.
As much as you love your new spouse, you cannot force your child to love them. Let them have the time to adjust and to warm up to them.
Set aside a period of time where you and your biological children have alone time. Children may see your new spouse and their step-siblings as stealing you away from them. It is very important to let your child know that they are still an important part of your life.
Navigating the stormy waters of co-parenting after a divorce is challenging but it is one of the most important transitions that a parent can deal with. If you keep these tips in mind, you can successfully navigate your way through and raise your children to be happy, well-adjusted adults.
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