To those who have experienced divorce/breakup with kids we all know how difficult it can be once you have decided to part ways from someone whom you have built a life with and have created children. It can be emotionally draining, stressful, & full of high conflict for the adults. Imagine what it does to kids?
Being a divorcee, I know how hard it can be to divorce, and the after math of it all. In the beginning of the process it can be so intimidating and heart-breaking because you do not know what to expect. This week on Majorie Blog I will be discussing the 5 most important things that has helped me co-parent after a high-conflict divorce. If you are not sure what a high-conflict divorce is I will sum it up.. A high conflict divorce is where marriage ends, and war begins…
For me I felt as if I was going to war, but I will let you know now co-parenting after a high-conflict divorce does not have to be war for you or your children. There is some peace, and although there will be bumps in the road, and may be some days when you feel defeated, if you follow the following tips I promise you co-parenting will not be a war, instead it will be peace for yourself & all children involved.
When I first got divorced, I focused a lot on what was done to me, how I was abused, mistreated, and hurt throughout the years. I focused too much on the pain I endured from the marriage and I did not realize the major changes and hurt the divorce was causing my kids. So that is where my first tip of advice stem from.
1. If you are hurting because of a bad divorce then please seek counseling for you, but no matter what the other parent does to push your buttons or make your life miserable, ALWAYS put the well-being and happiness of your kids first. Putting the kids well-being first allows you to heal just from seeing the happiness in them. Seeing my children happy is what helped me to ignore and disengage from a lot of unnecessary drama.
There will be occasions where something may take place that is negatively affecting the children, or there may be situations where the other parent is acting against what you feel is the best interest of your children. In my case the other parent was often in and out of jail, and was an addict, and disciplined in a way I felt was too harsh. In these cases, it is best to seek legal advice & handle your situation through the court system, but NEVER ever interrogate your children about the other parent & make them feel stuck in the middle.
2. Do your very best to not put the children in the middle of adult drama, adult drama can make the kids feel like they have to choose a side or make them feel like the situation is their fault. The more you can hide from your children, the better.
Co-parenting consist of co-existing with another person with whom you are no longer with. Co-existing could be phone-calls, drop-offs/pick-ups, or events where the children are involved and both parents are required to be in attendance. There will be occasions that require you and your ex to be present for the sake of your children. I suggest making these times as simple as possible and this leads to tip #3.
3. Always attempt and make every effort to work together for the best interest of the children. When you are present with you ex, always make sure there is no inappropriate behavior displayed while the children are present. Children pick up on behaviors, and energy of adults. So work together and be an example for them!
When relationships end, there are occurrences where it ended on really bad terms and you may genuinely dislike the person you have to co-parent with. The person I co-parent with was a serial cheater, and abusive so of course there was animosity and hate towards the other parent in the beginning. I really did not want to co-parent with him, and I did not want to share my children with such a person. I had to realize that I chose this person to procreate with and now I must deal with them and accept the choices and decisions I made that led to this. In doing this there were times when certain things were said about the other parent and the kids would ask questions or want to know the whys? The biggest things I learned is that the kids will not remain kids forever…let the kids determine who the other parent is without your opinions of that parent. Children are big on energy and actions. Let them decide!
4. Do not speak badly about the other parent while the children are present. The children will resent you, and the children will be upset because they love both parents. They are not aware of what happened between daddy & mommy. Even if they are aware, stay neutral and let them figure it out. If they need further understanding a neutral party/ therapist may be a good option. Whatever you decide bad-mouthing the other parent is not the answer.
My final and most important tool that helped me was disengaging. My divorce was high-conflict and there was a lot of disagreeing and I felt like I was treated so badly, and I felt like although we were divorce there was still tension, disrespect, yelling, anger towards me, controlling behavior, verbal & mental abuse, and I would always try to combat back and forth with my ex until I realized silence is the best medicine for a high-conflict ex. I only speak to my ex when it is ABSOLUTELY necessary. I understand now that I divorced some one who may never change for the better, but I am not in control of anyone but “MYSELF” when I realized that I am not responsible for my ex behavior toward me, I changed and I THRIVED for the better of myself & my kids.
5. DISENGAGE…If your ex is someone that like conflict and enjoys making your life hard…I suggest you disengage. Disengaging is one of the easiest ways to end conflict because the other person needs someone to engage with them in order to keep the conflict going. Remember you are no longer with him/her so there is no need to argue or prove yourself to them. Remain silent for your peace and your children peace.
I am not a therapist or professional, but I have experienced a high-conflict divorce and high-conflict co-parenting until I changed the narrative for myself and my children. I have used all the tips I gave, and they have worked for me. Divorce does not have to destroy you or your peace of mind. When you realize that war with your ex, is like war with your children it will make you look at co-parenting so differently. Before you can mentally be okay it is important to know you are not alone in this. People divorce every day, and co-parenting does not have to be toxic. You are only in control of you! Never allow another person to live rent free in your brain!