Divorced With Kids? 20 Co-Parenting Tips

divorced with kids, co-parenting tips

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Isn’t the concept of being divorced with kids kind of ironic? Think about it. You and your spouse decide you don’t want to live together any longer, you don’t want to be a couple, and chances are the amount of resentment, anger and animosity you have towards each other is off the charts.

 

Yet you have these people you created together and have raised thus far, who each of you loves with all of your heart. So now, regardless of how hard you try to avoid each other, how much you cringe at the site of one another, how much he or she annoys you, and how much you wish he or she would move to Australia, because of your children you are stuck. Stuck like two people being stuck in an elevator who can’t go anywhere until help arrives (or in your case until the kids are grownups and even then, you will have to see your ex if they get married, if they have kids who have birthday parties, etc. etc.)

 

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So, when I read this reader’s comment, I couldn’t help but feel the irony at its fullest:

 

I think it would be easier if I did not have to regularly interact with my ex. We share 50/50 physical and legal custody. Any advise?

 

Here is my advice: Of course it would be easier! Because people who get divorced harbor resentment and bitterness and anger, it sometimes feels like life would be so much better if you never again had to lay eyes on this horrible, evil person who hurt you so unbelievably badly, who ripped your heart out of your chest and stomped on it, who ruined your life and who aggravates and causes you anxiety every time he or she appears. Am I right?

 

But the harsh reality is that if you share custody of your kids and if you care about their well being (which you do, of course) you have to make it work. Some how, some way.

 

Now, how does one do that? Hmm…that isn’t an easy question but my one sentence answer is this: Love your kids more than you hate your ex. It’s as simple as that.

 

What does that mean? It means:

1. Gritting your teeth when your ex does or says something that makes you want to scream your head off.

 

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2. Avoiding bringing up the past and talking about what happened when you were married, what he or she did to you, etc.

3. Not making accusations based on things your kids or other people say without asking your ex what the story is first.

4. Ignoring petty things your ex might say or do because you realize it doesn’t really make a difference.

5. Picking your battles. Not making a big deal about things that don’t mean that much.

6. Not talking about your ex to your kids or asking them tons of questions about your ex to get information.

7. Treating your co-parenting goals like a business and not getting emotional.

8. Saying things to your ex that put your kids at ease—like hello and good-bye at drop offs.

9. Not acting angry.

10. Not acting cold.

11. Being open and honest with your kids about the divorce, but appropriate at the same time. In other words, they can hear the story but it has to be gentle, non-detailed, age appropriate and one that you know they can handle.

12. Focusing on your life now versus the past.

13. Not bashing your ex’s new girlfriend or boyfriend in front of the kids.

14. Being kind to your ex’s new girlfriend or boyfriend in front of the kids.

 

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15. Talking to your family and making sure they are kind to your ex in front of the kids.

16. Not sending texts or emails or calling your ex with harsh, angry messages.

17. Seeing a therapist if you think it will help you.

18. Recognizing your part in the demise of your marriage and possibly even apologizing to your ex about it.

19. Remembering your ex’s positive qualities and parenting traits, regardless of what he or she did to you in and or after the marriage.

20. Believing in yourself that you have the courage and wisdom to make your co-parenting relationship the best it can be for both yourself and your kids.

 

These things are not easy to do. Believe me. I get it. But if you can follow some of these things most of the time, it makes co-parenting a heck of a lot better for everyone And, isn’t that the main objective now?

 

What is done is done. Try to accept that your marriage has ended and that what matters now isn’t what happened, why it happened, who hurt who, who cheated, who lawyered up first, or who went all your assets. What matters are the precious children you created who now have to live in this new situation, who are super afraid of change, and who love both of their parents dearly.

 

In closing, remember this. You must regularly interact with your ex, not just when the kids are present (at drop offs and pick ups) but in emails and phone conversations and texts about their schedules, their needs, issues that arise at school or health wise. Remember that your kids deserve to have two parents united to raise them just the same as you would if your marriage would have worked out. That is a mindset that will make even the toughest days of co-parenting easier. Love your kids more than you hate your ex. Keep saying that and you’re on the right path.

Like this blog post? Check out my post, “Keep Hating.”

 

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Author: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling offers advice, inspiration and hugs. If you want a Cinderella story, be your own fairy godmother. You’re the only one who can pick out that perfect glass slipper!

8 Responses to “Divorced With Kids? 20 Co-Parenting Tips”

  1. Abby

    I can imagine that interacting with your ex is very difficult. But the opposite is also true. My ex left us for another woman and moved out of state. He has not come back to see the kids and knows nothing about their lives anymore. It is heartbreaking to see them grieve the loss of a parent they thought loved them. That to me was worse than having to deal with him if I could have saved the kids additional pain.

    Reply
    • Jackie Pilossoph

      I cannot even imagine how painful that is. I’m so sorry. I have the hardest time understanding how a person could leave thier children. I just do not get it. What a tragedy. Well, they are very lucky to have you. I hope you know your value. xoxo!!

      Reply
  2. Abby

    Thank you Jackie. I feel the same way. It is so shocking and sad. Your blog has helped so much through this process. Thank you for all that you do.

    Reply
  3. Beth

    What is also difficult is dealing with an ex who has been emotionally and mentally abusive. He’s Jackal and Hyde. Very good at gaslighting. He’s been showing his nice face since I filed in August trying to get out of child support but I know once things are over he will switch really quick which scares me terribly. I can’t trust him but he’s so good at convincing you that he’s a nice guy to get what he wants. Its confusing and hard to deal with. My oldest doesn’t want anything to do with him the middle just shuts down completely and my youngest is so confused. Tomorrow is the final hearing and I’m praying the judge sees through all of his BS.

    Reply
  4. adele

    I wish all divorced parents would follow this advice. the torment, hate, parental alienation, golden uterus syndrome, that my spouse’s ex imposes on us is almost unbearable. I do understand why some parents just walk away when the ex acts like that. It is incredibly stressful and difficult. For some parents, it is too painful to be a “visitor” in their child’s life which is how we feel. Sometimes we think it would be better if we had walked away from the kids. The kids are 9 now (twins) not sure if they would even care since we are only visitors. Our phone calls and parenting time is so limited and going back to court doesn’t work. The ex is the type of person who appears perfect in public – volunteers at the school 15 hours a week because she doesn’t work full time and is a good mom – except for the way she treats us. We ALWAYS take the high road and do not retaliate. It is difficult.

    Reply
  5. Elisha

    I’m struggling right now with maintaining my composure… My ex is unhappy with his life and in turn does all he can to make me feel terrible. We have been deprecated for 3 years and our divorce was finally finalized in August. I recently found out I was pregnant and since we told him he has made life miserable, he refused to allow me to have the kids for a few hours on Christmas Eve and finally after almost 24 hrs of me calling and texting to check on the kids he responded with a nasty text. It seems that no matter what I do he makes me the bad guy, I encourage him to take them to ensure he has time with them and I get back lash, I want a little extra time and I’m shot down because it’s his time with them. I have full custody and despite my desire to never let them go with him I know that would be detrimental for them so I bite my tongue, but I’m so tired of him continuing to use them to hurt me or going weeks with out calling or seeing them to make me out to be the bad guy. I’m tired of watching my babies hurt and taking the brunt of the hurt and anger because I’m the one who’s truly here.

    Reply

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