Co-parenting isn’t always as easy as magazine articles make it sound. However, it is extremely important that you and your ex find ways to co-parent effectively. Divorce can be a very confusing time for children, especially very young children. Having two parents who are on the same page, and willing to work together for the sake of the child is often a crucial part of getting your children through the divorce process with minimal emotional and psychological trauma. Therefore, if you are going through divorce, or are divorced, and you have children, it’s important to co-parent respectfully and effectively.
Work with Your Ex
When it comes to court ordered parent-time, stuff happens. There will likely be a time when your ex is late returning the children, or would like to trade holidays with you. When these things come up, try to be as understanding and accommodating as possible. If your ex is late returning the children, it may be advisable to wait longer than 2 minutes before contacting the authorities. Similarly, if your ex would like to take the children on a weekend that isn’t technically their weekend, you may accommodate their request in exchange for getting the children at a time when you normally wouldn’t. Remaining friendly and accommodating with your ex shows that you’re willing to make sacrifices in order to best serve your children. If issues, such as being late, persist despite friendly encouragement to correct the behavior additional steps may be necessary.
Don’t Speak Poorly of Your Ex
Your ex may indeed be a lying, cheating, narcissist who ruined your life. However, your children don’t need to know that, and they certainly don’t need to hear it from you. Telling your children just how rotten your ex is can backfire in some very significant ways. To begin with, your children may grow up to resent you for speaking poorly of their other parent. Also, depending on what you say and how frequently you say it, you may end up losing some custody since you’re alienating your children. Finally, your child loves you and their other parent. Just because your ex was a bad spouse, it doesn’t mean they are a bad parent and unworthy of your children’s love. When you speak poorly of your ex in front of the children, you children may end up having some very conflicting feelings since they want to be loyal to both parents. When it comes to speaking of your ex in front of your children, the old adage is true: if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
Let Your Child Call Their Other Parent
If your child would like to call their other parent during your court designated parent-time, it’s probably for the best that you allow them to do this. It’s normal for your child to miss their other parent when they’re at your house and vice versa. Plus, you’d probably want your ex to allow the children to call you too. When you don’t allow your child to call their other parent, you aren’t hurting your ex; the person you’re really hurting is your child.
Don’t Get Hung-Up on the Labels
Your child might say that they’re “going home” when they’re talking about returning to your ex’s house. They might call their step-father ‘dad”, or they might refer to their step mother as “my other mom”. Try not to get too hung up on those labels. It may hurt to hear your child referring to somewhere else as home, or to a step-parent as if that person is also their parent. But your child isn’t speaking this way to hurt you, especially if they’re younger children. Getting upset with your children for referring to your ex’s house as home is only going to create confusion. It may also increase the chances that your child will harbor resentment toward you as they grow up.
Put Your Child First
When all else fails, remember to consider how your children are feeling during this time. Children, and even older teenagers, don’t fully understand the complicated emotions involved in divorce. Children deserve to have a childhood that’s as simple and easy as possible. When parents refuse to work together in order to facilitate their children’s best interests, it’s often the children who end up facing the greatest loss. If you’re having difficulties working with your ex, it may help you to remember that your children are the ones who suffer the most from having parents who don’t co-parent effectively.
When You Need Legal Representation
If you’re currently going through a divorce, CoilLaw is here for you. Our talented attorneys are committed to protecting your rights and fighting for your best interests. We handle everything from high-conflict divorce to custody battles. When it comes to family law, there’s nothing CoilLaw can’t handle. If you’re ready to begin the divorce process, contact CoilLaw today.