We can never tell when we’ll decide to stop being husbands, wives or simply partners to our better half, but we can never stop being parents to our kids until our last breath. Well, that was heavy, but it’s actually the truth of which one cannot simply escape (not if you’re one responsible parent, in which case we would love to think you are).
Working things out for the kids after divorce or separation can be a tough call, but hey, it’s for the kids, right. Here are 15 tips that can help you in co-parenting with your ex.
15 Celebrate Small Successes
Divorce is rough, really rough. And if it’s a recent memory, getting over it can be beyond painful. This is why it’s important for you to focus on all the good that you have in your life. So before you start on how to work things out with your ex, know how to work things out with yourself.
So the next time you’re in a challenging situation with your ex and you handle it maturely, take time out to pat yourself on the back, and if necessary, have a small celebration. Why? Because this maturity thing is a very clear sign of the fact that you are healing.
Now, let’s move on over and explain how you can really manage things with your ex.
14 Don’t Badmouth About Your Ex to the Child
After divorce, the last thing you’d want to do is rant to your child about how bad their mom or dad was as a spouse to you. Think about your child’s feelings towards this subject matter first and foremost.
Literally, they’re not happy about the separation, let alone hearing one of you talking trash about the other. The thing is, your children both love you and look up to you both as good role models. Letting one another down by means of badmouthing to your kids about each other will only wreck their world.
13 Never Argue in Front of the Kid
Arguing in front of your child is a big no-no if you want to work this joint custody thing out. Don’t recreate the horror that your kids have already gone through when all of you were still living under one roof. Be civil around each other, save your discussions between the both of you for a private moment or you might as well schedule some time for anything that the both of you would need to talk about.
12 Keep an Open Communication
No matter how difficult this may be for you and your ex-spouse, you need to keep an open communication with each other no matter how much you argued as partners in the past. Keep an open communication and work together to develop it in the long run. This is essentially healthy for your kids as they still need parents who can keep in touch with each other for the sake of parental care.
11 Don’t Force Your New Partner to Play Your Ex’s Part
Substituting your new partner to play the role of dad or mom in place of your ex is a very bad idea. First off, you might not know it, but it may seem offensive to set such unsolicited high expectations from your new better half. It’s possible for them to feel meagre about the position even if they choose to not tell you about it.
Second, fact is, your new partner can never replace your kids’ real parents who are of their own flesh and blood... you get the drift. However, they can help out a lot with your kids during the coping stage and prepare for their role as step parents.
10 Be Good Team Players
Don’t compete with your ex about who’s better than who when it comes to parenting. You don’t have to battle over whose lifestyle is cooler or who got the kids more stuff. Stop being kids once and for all, it’s ridiculous. Remember, your kids need good parents who go well together as team players living under separate roofs.
9 Don’t Bring Up Past Hurts
Since spending time with your ex would be unavoidable every now and then due to your kids’ needs, odds are, neither will the conversations about your interrupted love life. Bringing up past memories on a wholesome note is okay as long as there are boundaries. But please, by all means, avoid kindling the grudges. You don’t want to get all weird around each other more than you once were.
8 Trust Your Kids With Your Partner
Even if you guys have had trust issues in your relationship back then, it isn’t fair to get it in the middle of your children even now that you’re all separated. No matter how hard it can be, you’ve got to trust them with your kids. They are just as eager to still be the best parent to their kids as you are. You should try to give them a little credit for that.
7 Don’t Diss Your Ex’s Ideas About Your Child’s Future
Talking about being the best separated parents for your kids, of course you’ve probably thought about what's best for their future, too. But talking to each other about it is a totally different thing, mind you. The other wants the kids to go this great local state university while the other wants them to go somewhere abroad.
And so goes with the dissing each other’s opinions. So mature – not! You need to beat the living daylights out of your selfish ego and drop the argument. You still need to ask your children’s opinion every once in a while, you know? Point is, even if you’re separated as partners, consider everyone’s (including your kids’) opinion when planning for their future.
6 Keep In Mind the "Drop Off" Rule
Don’t insist on picking the kids up from your ex’s house. Both of you should consider the “drop-off” rule, which means that during the child switching homes you’ll be the one to drop them off to your ex’s house. This is fairly helpful as picking up the kid at your ex’s, especially at a short notice, might cut their ongoing bonding short.
5 Allow Kids to Get In Touch With Your Former In-laws
This is a little hard of a pill to swallow for some who’ve been separated but YES, kids need their time with their grandparents. By grandparents we mean not only your parents, but your ex’s parents as well. Yeah, we know that it can be awkward to deal with them again especially if your separation with their brood didn’t go well but think about it.
Your kids need to identify with their family tree. It’s simply essential for someone to mingle with relatives. Let them enjoy the nature of being a part of a typical family. Besides, your kids are already one immediate family short since your marriage/relationship went caput. Best to give them credit for it.
4 Find Time Together As a Family
Try your best to get along well with you ex, especially when your kids request to get together like old times or simply if needs be (i.e. graduation day or birthdays). As former spouses/partners, such a day might not be as special for you as they are for your kids. It might even be hard for the both of you, but keep in mind that you have to try your best as parents to still give them as much of support and love that you can give.
And yes, even if that means showing one whole day of forbearance with your ex for family day’s sake.
3 Stick With the Schedule
Don’t compromise your time with your kids. Stick with what’s planned. Remember, it’s not your time alone that you’re about to mess up but your kids’, too. Be ready for them once they’re dropped off by your ex, plan activities ahead of the week, stick with what your kids requested for lunch, and try to avoid breaking promises to them. Help them cope up with the transition by being responsible albeit separated parents.
2 Consider the Other Parent's Point of View
Yes, it may sound annoying, agitating and infuriating, but hear us out. Concerns that you may find ridiculous may very well be good reasons for your ex to do or not do certain things with your child. So wait before you react. Think. Is what they’re saying true? If it is then does it really affect the schedule you (or they) have with your child?
If the answer’s yes, then you’re the one who needs to calm down and hear out what your ex has to say!
1 Work Out Visitation Refusal Together
At some point, between you and your ex, your kids might begin to develop their own opinion about one versus the other’s way of parenting. This is where “visitation refusal” or simply the child’s refusal to go to the other parent’s house can occur. At this point, don’t ever think about taking advantage of the moment. We’ve already said earlier that it’s a bad idea to badmouth just so you can have the upper hand.
Instead, talk to your child, know what’s bothering them and try your best to talk them out of such a decision. Also, it’s important to lend a hand to your ex and help him/her identify what’s causing your kids to refuse the visitation. In the end, let them know that both of you love them and that you’re doing everything for their own good.
It’s going to be a struggle handling such young confused minds but in the long run, they’ll somehow understand that these transitions are set for their own good.