Navigating a divorce and trying your best to co-parent is hardly easy, and it requires constant work. Believe me, I know.
Here are 4 things that have helped me and my ex co-parent in a way that’s best for our kids.
1.We stay on the same page…
though we don’t always agree…
For instance, my ex-husband thought I let our kids have too much phone time when we first separated, and looking back, he was right. I was newly single and had to jump start my career if I wanted to keep our family home, which I did.
But if one of our kids is receiving a consequence at my house, I communicate that to him and he carries the consequence over to his house, and vice versa. If we didn’t do this, I think our kids would seek out the more lenient parent and play that card.
This doesn’t mean we are in agreement on everything. It does mean we try our best to create a consistent environment for our kids even though they have two homes. It has paid off tremendously.
2.We agreed not to bad mouth each other in front of the kids, ever.
He will always be their father and I will always be their mother. I realize the privilege here: we still respect each other and neither of us did anything horrible to the other. Not everyone has an easy go of divorce, and it’s really difficult to keep your composure no matter what.
In the end, if your ex-spouse is doing something that your kids don’t like, or they can’t get along because the other parent won’t listen to how your kids feel, or what they need, your kids will figure it out and there will likely be a wedge between the two of them.
Bad mouthing your ex to your children is extremely hard on the kids. I know this from experience through my own parents’ divorce; it was a tough pill to swallow.
You can take action to protect them, or work through their feelings without telling them their father is a piece of crap (even though he may very well be).
3.We put our egos aside.
I lost it the first time I saw my kids driving down the road with my ex-husband and his new girlfriend in our family car. It was incredibly hard to see. I felt the same when his new profile picture of the two of them popped up, and when they went on their first vacation together. I felt like I’d be replaced very quickly.
I vented to friends. I even told him it was very hard for me to see it without being angry or shaming him. He heard me and had empathy, which was helpful. Had I lashed out at him, I don’t think I would have gotten the same response.
4.We are careful about who we vented to.
You’re going to have hard feelings about your divorce – there’s almost no way around it. We kept our ‘stuff” off the internet. We kept it away from our kids. I did not go to his sister’s house (who I’m still friendly with and love very much) and say, “Guess what your brother did this time!” He didn’t do it to me either.
That would only hurt us, and the family members we were blabbing to. It was very hard at times but I knew it would put them in an impossible situation and make any tension or hard feelings that much harder.
It’s okay and normal to vent, but there are lots of people in your corner you can go to.
Remember, co-parenting has its good days and bad days. It’s extremely touchy and can be hard on everyone so do the best you can each day and give yourself some grace.