Individual emotional responses to divorce proceedings are often intense. You may feel grief, fury or immobilizing depression in response to the end of your marriage. It can be very difficult to keep the focus on other people when your own emotional interior is in such a state of upheaval.
However, if you share children with your spouse, you already know that your own needs typically come secondary to those of your children. Putting your children first in a divorce is a noble goal. It is also a smart choice.
Making the kids your focus not only protects your children but it shows the family courts that you will act in the children’s best interests and therefore deserve consideration as they divide custody. What are tactics you can employ to keep your children the focus while co-parenting?
Never belittle your ex
You obviously want your children to see your side of the story and to respect your decision to divorce, but that doesn’t mean you should give them the message details of why you ended your marriage. It can damage your children’s personality and self-esteem to hear negative things about one of their parents.
They can all start to feel negative about that parent or about you. It is usually better to keep the conversation positive and wait until your children are mature adults to discuss the painful details of your divorce.
Stay positive when talking with your ex
Children are so sensitive, and they will be able to notice the tension between you and your ex if you are unpleasant and hostile toward one another whenever you interact. Not only does keeping your tone of voice and your language positive when talking with your ex help your children see the situation as less tense, but it can also help the two of you rebuild a more positive co-parenting relationship.
Recognize that sometimes cooperation is necessary
With the exception of extreme situations involving restraining orders and domestic violence, there will inevitably be scenarios in which you and your ex should both be present for your children. These days may range from birthdays and holidays to their 8th-grade graduation or their end-of-season softball tournament.
Recognizing that the two of you may sometimes need to cooperate with one another and share certain special events will allow the two of you to both show up to support your children when it matters the most. Not only will this make your children feel loved and supported, but it will provide positive experiences that will contribute to your healthier, new relationship as co-parents.
Making your children your main focus and top priority during a divorce and while co-parenting after one will ease that difficult transition for your family.