Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Successful Co-Parenting After a Nasty Split: Is it Possible?

If you have children and are going through a difficult divorce, you may wonder how you are going to be able to co-parent your children with your ex. If you could not get along well enough to resolve your differences during the divorce, parenting without hostility will most likely be a challenge.

But even in the worst divorce cases, there have been parents who have been able to put aside their differences and co-parent in a healthy and positive way. If you are dealing with an ex with whom you cannot communicate with, there are a few things you can do to turn your relationship around for the sake of your children.

The first step is the willingness to compromise. Since you cannot control another person's actions, you must start with yourself. Take a time out and ask yourself if the issue you are having with your ex regarding your kids is something worth fighting over. Can you let it go? Is this something trivial or serious? If it is something that will require your ego to take a bruising are you willing to do that to keep peace for your children?

If it is a serious issue that puts your children in emotional or physical danger, by all means do what you have to do to protect your kids. But most of the time the issues with our exes are a matter of control. Both sides wants to win and the kids get caught in the middle. For example, maybe your ex drops your kids off an hour after his designated visitation time. Is that really worth confronting your ex over? Did he feed the kids junk food over his weekend and not serve vegetables? Is that something you want to start a fight over or can you let it go?

Sometimes, keeping the peace requires giving in. That is not something we are comfortable doing. Especially when we know we are right and our ex is wrong. It just drives us crazy when our ex pushes our buttons by using the kids to get under our skin.

Since you cannot change your ex's behavior, you are left with the option of being right and having a fight that will affect your children or letting go and swallowing your pride. Sometimes biting your tongue and not sweating over the small stuff can greatly improve your relationship with your ex.

When a person tries to engage you and pick a fight, the best thing to do is walk away. Don't fall into your ex's trap and play his games. Your kids will thank you for it.


Smirking Cat said...

Any advice for a stepmom who is tired of watching the kids suffer because one parent simply refuses to co-parent? My SO and I have "let things go" as best we can...and been lied to, lied about, accused, you name it. I think it's all senseless and heartbreaking, especially for the kids.

Christina Rowe said...

You are in a tough position. Your stepchildren are lucky to have a stepmom who cares about them. Dealing with your husband's ex, who from what you have said, refuses to co-parent in a healthy way, is a challenge. The best advice I can give you is to not play her games. When a parent uses the kids as pawns to get even or cause trouble with the ex, the other parent and the new spouse have to take the high road and not get caught up in her antics.Obviously you must take action if she is doing anything that can be emotionally or physically harmful to the kids. Sometimes that may involve going to court or threatening legal action.But try this first. Instead of viewing her as an advisary, try another approach. Let go of the minor issues and focus on the serious ones. Instead of viewing her as the enemy, look at her as a woman in emotional pain who is lashing out to get attention.Try having compassion and dealing with her in a calm manner. It won't be easy, but it is very difficult to fight with someone who won't fight with you. After awhile, she will see that she is not getting under your skin and she will give up. As long as she she is getting a reaction from you and your husband she will continue to use the kids to get attention for herself. I wish you the best of luck:)