Post by Susan Melony
Going through a divorce and figuring out child custody arrangements are unpleasant to be sure and can be a nightmare, if handled incorrectly. After all, you’re getting divorced because you no longer want to be with your spouse! However, it doesn’t matter how you feel about your ex, you still share a child together. That person is still your child’s parent and you both deserve to enjoy a positive relationship with your child, regardless about how you feel about each other personally.
Although it isn’t easy, it’s very beneficial for your child if you support a positive relationship with your ex-spouse.
Don’t Badmouth Your Ex in Front of Your Child
One of the best things you can do is refrain from badmouthing your ex in front of your child. Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier said than done, especially if the actions of your ex are what led you to get divorced in the first place.
Your child loves their other parent, and they know that they are a mixture of both you and your ex-spouse, so it’s easy for them to feel bad about themselves if you say bad things. In some cases, it may backfire, and your child may end up feeling animosity towards you instead of your ex!
If possible, try to say positive things, or at the very least, keep your conversations neutral. If you have something bad you want to say, save it for the people that are a part of your support structure i.e. girlfriends, parents, or a therapist when you children aren’t around.
Work on Your Own Issues
Family therapy can be helpful long after your divorce is over. It can help your children work through their feelings about your divorce, and going to therapy with your ex can help ensure that you co-parent together to the best of your ability. Individual therapy can also be helpful. Also many states now require therapy and co-parenting training as you are going through the process… don’t skip this step. It is extremely helpful.
By going to individual therapy, you’re able to work on your own issues. It can help you move forward and can help you get to a place of forgiveness or neutrality. They can help you see your transactions as a business relationship, and they can help you move on with your life so you aren’t stuck on what your ex is doing. All these things can help you have a more positive relationship with your ex so they can have a positive relationship with your child.
Be Willing to Do Things Together
Doing things with your ex isn’t easy, but it can make life better for your child. If you’re willing to do the same things and be in the same room together, your children will greatly benefit.
A few things you can still do together as a family, even if you aren’t together as a couple anymore include:
- Sit next to each other at your child’s games and performances
- Plan and attend a single birthday party for your child
- Spend time together during the holidays
- Take turns hosting a monthly family dinner
Creating a parenting schedule that works for your family can be a challenge. Even if it sounds perfect on paper, it may not be quite so perfect in practice. It helps if you can be flexible.
Is it your ex’s weekend to spend time with the kids, but they have to work overtime? Consider switching weekends. Maybe they can’t make it one night to pick up the kids for dinner because they don’t feel well? Ask if there’s another night that might work.
Don’t assume the worst when your ex can’t spend time with your child. Be flexible so your child still gets to spend time with both of their parents.
Support Your Ex
Although it can be extremely difficult, you should do what you can to support your ex. That might mean making it easier for them to spend time with your child, but it might also mean encouraging them to call more often, to go back to school, or to go to therapy. By supporting them in becoming a better version of themselves, they can then bring that better version of themselves to their relationship with your child.
Just because your ex is no longer your favorite person doesn’t mean they aren’t your child’s favorite person! No matter why your relationship ended, it is helpful to remember that your child deserves to have a positive relationship with both of their parents.