Having been born into a blended family, I have seen first hand the repercussions of difficult divorces and warring parents that cast a shadow over family events and future generations for years. The fact is you choose to have children together and you have a responsibility to find a way to co-parent for the sake of yourself and your children. After all, your ex is not going away.
Here are my tips on how to co-parent successfully:
- Break your news together. Start as you mean to go on and break the news of your split together. Do not underestimate the effect this will have on them. This is most likely the biggest thing they will have had to deal with to date. They need to know both of their parents are there for them.
- Let it go. Whatever the reasons for your divorce, whoevers fault you believe it to be let it go. Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. The only one you are hurting is yourself and it may also impact your children, so let it go. You are using valuable energy that is better placed elsewhere.
- Your child is not your emotional crutch. Do not confide in your children about the details, reasons for your divorce, or how you feel about it. Make sure you have a good support network around you from friends, family or a coach not your kids. They are not there to be your soundboard for your mental stability.
- Never bad mouth your ex to or in front of your children. Criticising your partner will cause your children to think less of you - not your partner, and your words will come back to bite you. It also puts them in an uncomfortable position.
- Do not make them choose. Your ex is not your competition, nor is a new or future partner. Making your children choose between you both will end badly for everyone and cause your children unnecessary pain. Your children love you both – you chose to have them together and will continue to do this regardless of whether you are married or not.
- Never use your children against your ex. I cannot begin to tell you the damage this will do. Children are not tools to be used in this way, let them enjoy their childhood and find a different way to engaged. After all, we are all the products of our environment, children who grow up in being used in this way more often than not go on to have their own issues later in life.
- Do not pass messages via your children. Communicating with your ex directly on all matters is crucial to your success as co-parents. Using your children as a go between undermines you both and again puts them in an uncomfortable place.
If you are struggling with divorce or establishing a co-parenting relationship with your ex get in touch for a free consultation.