I’ve been co-parenting (and divorced) for ten years.
No matter how “over it” I believe that I am, there are still moments and situations that come up and transport me back to the hurt and betrayal of a decade ago.
To me, divorce is like a rock thrown into a pond. The waves the rock causes immediately are large and frequent. Over time, the ripples grows smaller and less often. But they are still there.
Divorce doesn’t ever go away. Somehow, though, while we sift through our own feelings, we have to find a way to effectively co-parent our children with someone who may, at times, feel like our greatest enemy.
How to Manage Through Hard Days
Here are the principles that I do my best to follow. I learned them from my mistakes over the years. Maybe my stumbles can help a few of you.
- Do not speak badly about your ex in front of your children. Ever. Find a trusted friend or therapist with whom you can share your feelings. Allow your children to continue to love and look up to both of their parents. Trash-talking your ex only makes you into the bad guy.
- Install a shared calendar app on your phone, and get together regularly to discuss schedules. Your kids need you two to be on the same page so they can feel confident that their ride is going to show up on time on the right day in the right place. Get organized, and plan to spend time communicating about this subject often.
- Do not make decisions when you’re angry. My dad gave me some of the best advice of my life when I was going through my divorce. “Never make a decision based on your emotions,” he said. You’re allowed—and expected!— to be mad and feel mad, but calm down before talking to your ex. Taking adequate time to process, consider, research and calm down is beneficial to everyone.
- Be intentional about building new memories with your children. You may be sad, mourning the loss of your marriage, and lamenting the lost traditions. Make new ones! It’s OK to be sad and acknowledging that will help you heal, but moving forward is always the best direction.
- Don’t compete with your ex to be more fun. Someone in this co-parenting setup has to be the one who takes the kids to the doctor for shots, buys new school shoes, oversees homework and makes sure the kids use soap in the shower. Be concerned most about caring for your children while they are with you. What goes on at the other parent’s house isn’t your focus. Be consistent, loving, and present when you have your kids.
- Grow up. Nothing made me grow up faster than coming into motherhood and going through a divorce simultaneously. I had to learn to manage my feelings appropriately so that I could take the best possible care of my son, but still heal. It was a learning curve at first and full of missteps, but choosing to act kindly is always a good place to start.
Remember the Children
Remember, at the end of the day, you really do want what is best for your children. Keeping that fact in the forefront of your mind will always lead you in the right direction.
If this was helpful to you, stay tuned. Next month, my blog will offer tried-and-true ideas on how to healthily co-parent and share time over the holidays…