Keeping your children out of the middle during and after your divorce means building a new relationship with your ex that is focused on your children and their wellbeing.
In most cases, divorce is preceded by conflict. In a perfect world, you would be able to divorce your spouse and never see them again. If you have children, I’m afraid that isn’t an option. You will have to not only see your ex-spouse again; you will have to co-parent with them.
Although you will be expected to deal with the stress of co-parenting with your ex, your children are not. In other words, in spite of your negative emotions toward your ex, and your lack of desire to have a relationship with them you must for the sake of your children. And, you must have a relationship that doesn’t negatively impact your children.
It’s both parent’s responsibility to work toward a co-parenting relationship that is not stressful for your children and ensures they don’t feel caught in the middle of their parent’s conflict with each other.
The following 9 tips will help you co-parent in a manner that keeps your children from being caught in the middle.
Don’t expect your children to keep secrets from their other parent. Show the same respect for your children’s other parent after your divorce that you did before your divorce. Granted, this may take some acting on your part but, for the sake of your children making believe you hold the other parent in high regard will help your children hold you in high regard.
Keep negative opinions about the other parent to yourself. This is easy to do. When you are with your children, focus on your children. Leave any focus of your divorce or negative feelings about your spouse, out of your relationship with your children. Compartmentalize the toxic stuff. Lock it away and never bring it out in front of your children.
Divorce isn’t a game where a score should be kept or a team should be rallied. It isn’t your children’s job to cheer you on during your divorce. Don’t put them in the position of doing so.
Don’t talk about financial issues with your children either before or after the divorce. If the divorce is costing you an arm and a leg, the children don’t need to know. If, after the divorce, you experience financial hardship don’t use your children as a sounding board for your fears and worries.
If you were still married and having financial problems, you wouldn’t discuss the issue with your children. Don’t discuss with or say anything to cause your children concern over how much money you do or don’t have during or after your divorce.
Don’t allow your children to speak badly about the other parent. It’s common for children of divorce to attempt to pit parents against each other. Don’t be manipulated by them and, at no time should you allow your child to show disregard and disrespect for their other parent. How your children feel about the other parent has no relationship to how you may feel.
If your children have two great parents who love and support them, it’s imperative they be taught the value of both parents.
Legal divorce issues are none of your children’s business. They don’t need to know you have a court date. They don’t need to know if you have to take your ex back to court for defiance of a court order. Children don’t need to know details they are not old enough to comprehend and, has nothing to do with them, in the first place.
If the children come home after spending time with the other parent toting tales of how badly Mom or Dad talked about you, take the high road. You can’t control how the other parent behaves in front of your children but you can control your own behavior. Give your children an example of behavior that models exemplary behavior.
Don’t put your children in the position of being the go-between. If you have a message for your ex, convey it to them yourself in person, via text or email. With modern technology, there are many ways to get a message to someone, so many that there is never an excuse for using your children.
Don’t argue or engage in conflict in front of your children. No cursing, screaming, yelling, fighting or behaving like Neanderthals in front of your children, please. Don’t do anything in front of your children that will cause them fear and distress. That is just good common sense.
Once your divorce is final you have two roles in your children’s eyes. You are their parent and the co-parent with their other parent. Your role as spouse and lover to your ex has ended, the other two roles will never end.
Once you are a parent, you’re always a parent. Once you’re a co-parent, you’re always a co-parent. You hold one end of your children’s emotional safety net; the other parent holds the other end. Keeping your children out of the middle during and after your divorce means building a new relationship with your ex that is focused on your children and their wellbeing. This means you, as a parent doing whatever is needed for you to remain a child-centered, emotionally healthy person who recognizes that their children’s needs come before their own. Can you do that?