Parenting children takes a colossal amount of strength, determination, patience, and faith under the best of circumstances. Divorce can often wreak havoc on a family. Even though your marriage is over, your life is not! Take things slowly, give yourself and your family time to adjust. Self-care is critical. Listen to your children. Support their right to love their other parent.
If everything is great, congratulations and kudos to both of you! Your children will certainly flourish. It sounds like you are effectively co-parenting them and have provided a safe, loving environment in each of your kids’ homes.
However, If you are experiencing co-parenting issues with your ex, you may want to read on.
Think about this for a moment; two good people don’t always make a good couple. Nonetheless, two good people can make good parents, even if they are dramatically different from one another.
You probably created a parenting plan for your children that you and your ex agreed to when going through your divorce. The reality is you almost never agreed on how to raise or discipline your children when you were married! How is this plan ever going to work? You both thought that one parent was too ‘hard’ on the kids, and one was too ‘soft’. The two of you almost always had conflicting opinions when it came to expectations and consequences for your children.
Most divorced parents agonize, struggle, and ask themselves “how do I successfully raise our children when things are so different in each household”?
First and foremost, you need to let go! Acknowledge things are different! This is difficult and may take superhuman efforts on your part. You can only control yourself, your behaviors, and emotions.
Remember, parenting is a shared responsibility. It is critical that you put your children in the CENTER and not in the MIDDLE between you and your ex.
What does that mean? It means that you and your children’s other parent work out schedules, differences, compromises, and solutions together with one another. You don’t ask kids to relay information to their other parent, you don’t ask them or act like they need to choose sides, you don’t ask them to keep secrets. You NEVER speak about their other parent in a disparaging, demeaning manner. Intentionally making someone look small, does not make you the better person.
When you are continually battling your ex with fire the kids always get burned. No amount of making someone feel bad about themselves is going to make them a better parent.
Your children have two parents. The structure of your family has changed, your kids now have two homes. However, your roles and responsibilities are constant whether you are the ‘on-duty parent’ or the ‘off-duty’ parent. Support and encourage, lovingly, and confidently your children’s’ time with their other parent.
There are alarming amounts of data that support ‘children are impacted by divorce’. However, there are thought-provoking and surprising studies that have shown that divorce doesn’t necessarily hurt children, it is the level of conflict between their parents that hurts children.
The bottom line, the way you navigate through and after the divorce will have long-term effects on your children.
All is not lost, children can survive, thrive, and mature to be incredible adults after their parent’s divorce. It is not a foregone conclusion that your kids will carry trauma, shame, or battle scars from your divorce. Children need loving, supportive parents; parents that work hard at their co-parenting relationship and treat one another with respect, open-mindedness and perhaps at times a little humor.
Consider for a moment the following:
- What message are you giving to your children when you are nicer, to a stranger than you are to their other parent?
- What will your kids’ divorce story or narrative be when they talk about their parent’s divorce?
- As your children grow and mature into adulthood, and as they look back on their childhood, what will you have done to make your kids proud of you?
“Keep in mind there was probably a time when you loved your ex.
And even if you can’t stand the sight of them now,
your child never fell out of love.
And they never will.”
Move forward with confidence even if it’s baby steps – you got this!