Co-parenting after divorce is always filled with challenges. As a parent, separation or divorce with children is like being woken up abruptly from a deep slumber, thrown on a roller coaster with screaming teens and asked to justify yourself to the Ewok sitting next to you, whose got a knife to your throat. After you get through the initial shock, feeling like you're still in a bad dream, your instinct is to fight, defending everything you believe to be right, defending your pride, defending your honour, defending your identity, and defending your children.
Don't despair! The one person who can change how you manage the emotional roller coaster called divorce is you. Take on one or all of these co-parenting communication resolutions and make this year a kickass year for you and your kids.
RESOLUTION 1: Be Kind to Yourself
Be kind to yourself and change your thoughts of guilt and failure to thoughts of strength and fearlessness. Ok, so you screwed up, you made mistakes! You couldn’t express the issues you had in your marriage. You did something you regretted. You didn’t listen to their concerns. Whatever the issue, you can’t change the past. Even if your ex won’t say sorry, you can. Even if it’s the hardest thing you will ever do, forgive them. The energy you waste in reliving the hurt they caused over and over again keeps you from moving forward. Yes it’s hard, yes it takes effort and yes it means you can’t blame anybody else for where you are and where you’re going, but you can do this. Change every negative thought to a positive one. You will only emerge more confident and more fearless and become a great role model for your kids, showing them that when faced with adversity, you rock!
EXTRA HELP – Download Divvito's Be Kind To Yourself Morning Mantra
RESOLUTION 2: PROTECT YOUR KIDS
Protect your kids from any negative feelings between you and your co-parent. You’re ripping out a piece of your kid's heart when you bad-mouth your ex and no child should feel torn between their parents or be scared to love them both unconditionally. Yes we can’t be perfect, but don’t roll your eyes when the kids talk about your ex (or their new partner), don’t screw up your face when messaging them, and don’t bad-mouth your ex to your friends when your kids are around (even after you’ve put them to bed as they have bigger ears than you think!).
EXTRA HELP – Download the Project Puppies and Popcorn chart to help change your habits
RESOLUTION 3: Be dependable
Being dependable is the one thing your co-parent and kids need the most. It’s the greatest way to show them you are investing in being a kickass co-parent. To be dependable means you pick up and drop off your kids on time. It means you give your co-parent plenty of notice if there is any change to your arrangements due to work commitments (always have a back-up plan if they can’t help out!). It means going to watch your kid’s football game or dance concert if you said you would. It’s keeping to a consistent routine when you have the kids. It means feeding your kids healthy meals and not take-out and junk food several times a week. It means paying your share of child support and shared expenses on time. It means not buying something out of the ordinary for your kids and expecting your co-parent to pay half when you never discussed it with them first. It means passing on information to your co-parent in a timely manner. Don't be 'kind of' dependable, be kickass dependable!
EXTRA HELP – Download the Divvito Co-parent Weekly Organizer and kickstart the year
RESOLUTION 4: Be Respectful
Be respectful to your ex and your kids.
Respecting your ex – no one says you have to like them, but you can respect your ex as a co-parent. Have you ever worked with someone who rubbed you the wrong way or continued to do things you didn’t agree with? You still had to cooperate to get the job done. Pretend your ex is that business colleague and your joint objective is to raise your kids successfully to be happy, independent and confident. Work your butt off to do your job successfully and be civil and courteous with your colleague … we mean ex. Just be respectful.
Respecting your kids – Let your kids be kids! They need to know that while you have separated, you are both still their parents. It’s not their fault so don’t make them feel like it is. Let them love your ex without strings attached, don’t make them take sides, and don’t use your kids as the messenger between you and your ex. Being nice to your ex is the greatest way you can show everybody that you respect them – your ex and your kids.
EXTRA HELP – Download the R-E-S-P-E-C-T poster for the fridge
RESOLUTION 5: Focus on the facts
Focus on the facts when communicating with your co-parent about the kids. Keep negative emotions out of your conversations, and do your best not to retaliate if they say something out of line. Focusing on the facts doesn’t mean taking all emotion or common courtesy completely out of your discussions. Add a greeting, provide digestible details (not an essay), let them know when you need an answer and sign off.
Here's an example: Hi Adam, Jack is keen to start football this season which is great. Will cost $250 including uniforms, training on Wednesdays after school, games on Saturdays. Can we discuss how we can make this happen for Jack before Sunday as we need to register him next week? Thx Eve
Enjoy taking up the challenge of changing your co-parenting style from bearable to kickass!