If you have researched any recent divorce statistics in the US, you know that divorce is a common scenario that occurs in 4 out of 10 marriages. Divorcing when you have children adds a considerable amount of nuances and complications to the process, such as working out the child custody arrangements.
While a complicated and often painful situation, steps you take as you navigate your post-divorce lifestyle and co-parenting can greatly reduce stress for everyone involved.
Identifying YOUR Post-Divorce Co-Parenting Relationship
No two marriages or divorces are the same, so your post-divorce relationship with your former spouse could take on many different forms.
1. Friendly Co-parents
In this beneficial post-divorce relationship, the exes have amicable feelings toward one another, often for the sake of preserving some elements of the cohesive family lifestyle for the children. These former couples are comfortable attending school events together, occasionally enjoying a meal with the kids, and even taking trips together.
If both exes have truly moved on past the pain and awkwardness of divorce, they can either feign friendliness for the sake of the kids or even enjoy a truly platonic relationship. This is a healthy and balanced set up for the kids, but also rare and hard to sustain through the daily stresses and changes of modern life.
2. Fully Estranged
These are ex-couples that are no longer in touch. This can happen for many reasons – a move for one of the exes, mental or physical issues, or a deep resentment or anger on one or both sides. This type of relationship can offer a clean break and closure to the ex-spouses, but when there are children involved, can be extremely painful. Parents often forget what kind of negative effect this type of post-divorce relationship might have on children.
3. Highly Contentious
This type of post-divorce relationship has a very high level of anger and conflict, so much so, that the parties often have to communicate through lawyers or a mediator. The anger of one or both of the exes gets in the way of making decisions about the children or ironing out the details of the divorce. This type of relationship is harmful to all and very stressful for the children.
The good news is that it often calms down after the divorce is finalized, or when a good amount of time passes. If you both make a good faith effort to try to get passed divorce, this toxic post-divorce relationship can be avoided.
4. Partially Contentious
Not as toxic and tense as the Highly Contentious relationship, the exes that have a Partially Contentious relationship post-divorce tend to have a strong dislike for one another, and trouble agreeing on anything. They generally do communicate directly but argue frequently. This type of relationship is also very hard on the kids, and the exes.
5. Efficient Co-parents
This is a largely neutral post-divorce relationship between the former spouses, but one that is cooperative and positive about matters having to do with the kids. For the sake of having peace and harmony for everyone involved, the exes try to be flexible about things like kids’ schedule changes, making important decisions about schools and camps and working together to plan for key milestones, like college. Many exes even take co-parenting courses to try to act as effectively as possible.
Assess How You Would Like Your Post-Divorce Life to Be
After you endure the whirlwind emotions of navigating the divorce process, it is important to take a step back and assess where you would like to be after some time passes. In many situations, even the toughest situations can settle down after both parties have had some time and closure. You might not be able to carve out your ideal situation, but taking steps in a positive direction can help achieve some measure of peace in the future.
Separate your Divorce Baggage from your Kids’ Experience
In many situations, an ex spouse can be an amazing parent while being a terrible spouse, or ex. Take the time to recognize these differences. Maybe your ex is rude and dismissive to you, but patient and kind as a parent. Do not let your hurt feelings ignore the positive effect your ex has on the kids. Do your best to support your ex as a parent, especially when your child has specific development needs.
Improve Your Communication
Most issues between divorced spouses stem from bad communication, and emotions can often get in the way. Think about what is effective communication for you and your ex – perhaps emailing or texting is better or planning ahead. Once you find what results in better understanding, implement those communication methods for better results.
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Show compassion for your kids if they seem stressed or worried about presents, holiday schedules, or other issues. Assure them that you will help them to navigate through rocky patches and that it’s normal to feel stressed during the holidays.
The post 10 Co-Parenting Tips to Help Your Kids Thrive During the Holidays appeared first on Divorce Magazine.
Holidays can be very difficult for divorced co-parents. Learn four important truths that will help you have the right attitude for the holidays.
The post Co-Parenting During the Holidays: 4 Painful Truths appeared first on Divorce Magazine.
To some, I’m a parent, step-parent, co-parent and former single parent. To me, I’m Stacy and I’m a mom, that’s it, plain and simple. Regardless of the title, my role as a parent is the same. I love, I’m consistent and I’m compassionate.
My parenting journey is, well, a journey. My first child was born out of wedlock, in fact so was my second. I married my babies’ daddy and we divorced two years later. Single parenting was difficult; however, it was easier parenting alone than with my former husband. Our parenting values were similar; but he wasn’t a good husband and weren’t his family, he said so.
After we divorced, his Disney Dad lifestyle was a challenge. When he started dating his now wife, we ventured into a co-parenting relationship. I was excited about the change and welcomed her presence to participate with us on this journey.
For years we met as a family: the boys, me, my ex and his wife. Our bi-weekly family meetings included discussions about everything applicable to the boys: sports, school activities, appointments, challenges, grounding, successes, etc. I truly believed in the practice of togetherness and not just for show.
Consistency was important and it helped navigate the daily grind of life. In fact, when they announced her pregnancy, I was sincerely excited about their journey. She quickly promised the boys (11 and 10 at the time) nothing would change when the twins were born. Meetings stopped immediately after their birth. It’s ten years later and I’m still waiting for that family meeting. Well, actually not. But I wouldn’t be lying if I said I was disappointed that our village fell apart, deflated and died.
I’m not naïve, I didn’t expect the same level of interaction; however, I didn’t expect years of name calling, belittling and bad mouthing to follow. Why the change? I have no idea. Years of rationalizing brought me to this belief: she wanted the best for her kids and mine didn’t fit into her picture.
I feel immature saying it but honestly, don’t know what else to make of it. The moments and events to follow I could never make up and it broke my heart to know my kids and (even) my ex-husband were living through it.
Around the same time this shook down, my now husband and I were dating. He has three kids. He and his former wife have similar styles of parenting. My perception of how our life might look was skewed. I knew them as a couple and was somewhat familiar with their parenting style; however, I was blinded by love and too oblivious to comprehend how differently we do parenting.
While we never had family meetings, we’ve spent a lot of time together in family and marriage counseling with the goal to find a common space.
No matter where you start and the adults involved, the rules of the road and outcomes appear similar.
Here are my 10 co-parenting lessons.
It’s not about you, it’s about them. The two of you have decided not to be together or at this moment, the two of you can’t agree on how to parent. Remember, your relationship status is your choice, not your kids’. It’s your job to keep their best interest in mind even if your vision looks different. Said differently, figure that crap out with each other, not with the kids.
Bite your tongue. Sometimes we say things we don’t mean or hear mean things that have been said. No matter what, it’s not the kids’ issue, it’s yours. Keep them out of it, even if it does involve them. Invoke a no belittling rule. Seriously! If other adults are involved in the relationship, this rule also applies. Badmouthing will kick you in the butt someday.
When tension rises, take a moment and walk away. Especially when you can’t hear yourself think, or feel like you NEED to justify your words or actions… When feeling defensive or just wanting to react, stop!
JUST. WALK. AWAY.
Come back together later. I promise the outcome will be much better Children learn what they live and they will start to mimic your behavior.
Try something different if what’s established isn’t working. Let’s say the two of you have agreed to the family chores criteria. Two kids kick and scream, you’re nagging them while the third kid does all of the work. Try something different, be flexible to understand the problem. Kids often have a valid reason for not doing what we expect of them. That DOESN’T mean they shouldn’t participate, but they may have a good idea or a desire to clean all of the toilets in the house versus vacuuming the stairs. We can always dream, right?
Compromise doesn’t mean giving in. In fact, the art of compromise inherently engages active negotiation. Ultimately, you have the final decision. Side note: you might get more out of them by leveraging their strengths, motivations, and passions.
Establish boundaries. As adults, when we are told no, we assess and determine next steps. The word no forces us to seek alternatives. We may not always like the choices available, but we can do with it what we want and move forward. Here me out. Saying no creates an opportunity for resiliency, negotiation, and boundary setting. It’s ok to tell them they have to go to their room an hour before bedtime, finish chores or homework before play. And, even if there’s not a really good reason to say no it’s ok to say it anyway to create a teaching moment.
Communicate. I’m not telling you to talk for the sake of talking. Communication comes in many ways. Family meetings, email, call, text, showing up for events, offering to help when it’s not normally your responsibility. Involve the entire family where appropriate and when appropriate and if able. At a minimum, don’t assume. If you don’t know, ask. If they are asking again and you are irritated because it’s the fifth time they’ve asked the same question, take a deep breath before answering.
Be consistent. A really simple example is a rotating chore list. Each house can have a different list of chores and ownership of those chores. I’m not saying everything has to be identically between parents or homes; however, the expectation of having roles and responsibilities on a daily or weekly basis is important.
We do things based on what we know and what our experiences. Situations and events cause change. With change comes disruption to consistency. Leverage #4, #5, and #6 it will help establish a new norm.
Choose kindness to each other and yourself. Situations and moments can really suck. Revert to #3 and then remember no bitch talking, backstabbing or bad mouthing your husband’s former wife to the lady behind the bakery counter. Seriously! People can see right through your B.S. Allegiances can change. When you say one thing and do something else, people notice. Events happen, terrible words said. Vent when appropriate in a safe space but come back to the plateau.
Said another way, treat others poorly and I guarantee it will come back to haunt you one day. Choose the high road.
Be Curious. Stay Curious. When possible, remove the emotion. Doesn’t mean the situation isn’t emotional. Step back and choose to understand, remove the emotion or hurt that may have come from a comment or message. Ask questions.
Think of your emotions as a ladder. When you are on the bottom rung, you are at the lowest of emotions, likely defensive and reactive. If you are curious, you are mid-ladder, a little off the ground, not quite the top. Mid-ladder creates vulnerability, which can look and feel like a risk. Try hanging out mid-ladder, not attached to the outcome or the emotion. Seek to understand. Mid-ladder doesn’t require you to agree or disagree.
The human brain is incapable of a negative thought and positive thought at the same time. Choose positive. Curiosity is a baseline positive emotion.
Practice makes better. Yep, I didn’t say perfect. There’s not a manual and you’re not required to know everything. Allow yourself space to change, make adjustments, forgive and move forward.
I was raised to be perfect. The perception of perfect is different for everyone and I wish I’d known that long ago. It took me years to quit beating myself up and focus on the practice of parenting. I’ll admit, it’s a hard place to navigate sometimes. We argue less and focus on the big picture. Acknowledging our own and each other’s strengths and weakness has been of benefit.
All the love, consistency and compassion in the world don’t prepare you for parenting with someone else, and it can be more of a challenge than you would’ve ever imagined. You have a choice, chose positive. Then live it. Don’t strive for perfection; strive for practice, for good I’ll leave you with this… none of us are perfect and it does take a village to raise each other. Use your village, be curious with each other and remember to think about how you want your children to respond in life. Children learn what they live.
The post 10 Co-Parenting Lessons I Learned While Co-Parenting appeared first on Divorced Moms.
Civil co-parenting after divorce is essential because it will determine how well your child adjusts to post-divorce issues such as visitation and parenting plans.
The post 5 Things You Must Do When Co-Parenting After Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.
When you break up with a narcissist, you are saving yourself a lifetime of hurt, pain and misery. BUT if you have children together the torture does not end easily. By understanding the realities, characteristics and how to safeguard your children you are armed and ready for the battle.
- Parental Alienation
The narcissist parent will tell the child(ren) lies to scare them (e.g. “your mum/dad is going to take you away from me and we’ll never see each other again”) to try and make the child not want to see the non-narcissist parent
They will also limit or control access with the non-narcissist parent by saying when, where and how the other parent will see the children. They can use access as a way of trying to lure you back in
- Constantly Changing Plans
The narcissist parent will constantly try and make changes to pre-arranged plans in order to retain control over the situation and cause maximum disruption
- Constant Lies
A narcissist will tell services what they think they want to hear. They will paint a picture of being a perfect parent but if you join all the dots you will see that there are many holes in their stories
- Manipulation of Services
A narcissist will try to use services to meet their own needs and often will play the victim to transfer blame to the non-narcissist parent, accusing them of doing the things that they themselves have done. They may be in a position of power themselves so will use that to belittle and demean the other parent, making others believe their lies and take their side.
The narcissist will block access or holidays/outings simply to cause disruption and regain control
- Financial Control
The narcissist will use money to manipulate the non-narcissist parent, ensuring that they don’t have any money or lying that they themselves have no money to get out of paying for their children
- Maintain Control
The narcissist parent will do everything they can to maintain control over their ex partner in whatever way they can. They may not tell them about doctor’s appointments or school appointments OR give them so little notice that it is almost impossible for the other parent to attend or not turn up late which the narcissist then uses to prove how unreliable the other parent it
- Restrict/Control Visitation
The narcissist will try to dictate the terms of access and deliberately chose times when they cause the most disruption to the other parent. If they are mad with the other parent they will restrict their access. They may also make the other parent come to their house to ensure they remain under their control
- Belittle the other parent
The narcissist will pick on every little thing the other parent does, making out they are not capable and trying to get everyone else, including the children, believe that they are the better most capable parent
- False Allegations
The narcissist will attack when they are in danger of losing control and this can result in them making false allegations of violence and abuse. Women particularly use this tactic because gender stereotypes see women as the victims of abuse as opposed to the perpetrators.
- Refusal to engage
A narcissist will not want an outsider telling them what to do so will often refuse to engage with services. However, some narcissists believe they can outsmart services by telling lies and manipulating professionals. They will make out they are fully co-operative and that the other parent is the problem
- Strange and Sudden life changes
A narcissist will do whatever it takes to regain control over the other parent and this can often result in them making sudden and strange life changes. For example, a parent who has always held a good job may suddenly leave work to ensure they have no money to pay child support or to try and show that they are a dedicated parent and want to be at home for their children
- Family, Friends and New Partners
The narcissist will use their family and friends to spread lies about the ex partner. They may also get a new partner very quickly if they were the ones who ended the relationship and can even walk away from their children completely for long periods of time.
Narcissists who did not end the relationship will threaten family, friends and new partners in order to get their ex partner back under their control. They may try to contact the new partner and bully them. They will likely tell everyone how the ex has wronged them in some horrific way but then refuse to move on and maintain regular contact with the ex. They may lie and say that their ex wants them back or that their ex owes them money if anyone questions their behaviour. They can stalk, harass and intimidate anyone close to the ex and use the children to find out more about the ex’s life.
The narcissist will use family pets to inflict hurt and exact power of the other parent. They may steal, hurt or even kill pets.
The narcissist will hurt anyone who threatens their false view of themselves. This can include family members, new partners, their ex and even the children themselves. This is the ultimate act of power and control.
This is an extract from my Co-Parenting Handbook which also has information on characteristics of a narcissist parent, safeguarding children of narcissists and top tips for co-parenting with a narcissist.
I would love to hear your experiences as well though, what works and what doesn’t. If you’d like any help or advice on the process or dealing with a narcissist do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org