Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

ID-100186774Most of you are concerned about the effects of divorce on the adjustment of your children. You want to do whatever possible to help them adjust. You already feel guilty about putting children through the ordeal of divorce.

A good place to begin is to reduce the conflict between you and your ex-spouse. I know you are thinking, “ If I could do this, I wouldn’t be divorced!” Possibly, but you still have to work on it for the sake of your kids.

Here are 6 tips to work on conflict resolution with an ex:

1) Try to resolve whatever unresolved feelings remain towards your ex. It’s time to bury the multiple hatchets. Forgiveness is key.

2) Remind yourself that no matter how you feel about your ex, he/she is your child’s parent. That fact doesn’t change. Build positive exchanges around parenting issues. It’s not about the two of you now but about the kids. This will help build positive feelings in the child as well.

3) Stay humble; putting your needs aside for the sake of your children requires sacrifice.

4) If you didn’t have great role models for interpersonal skills in marriage, go to seminars, be open to change and learn to better communicate. This will help all your relationships.

5) Keep children out of what therapists call an unhealthy triangle. A triangle forms when two people have difficulty communicating or dealing with conflict directly and bring in a third person. The third person deflects the problem and becomes the focus on attention. The third person is often the child of warring parents. The child is caught in the middle.  So deal with your ex no matter how tempting it is to go through your child.

6) Decide how much contact to have with each other. If negotiations can’t be reached, parents who bring in the legal system are opening up an adversarial process that usually results in more conflict. This may be needed in high conflict divorces, especially when violence, drug abuse, mental illness, etc. are involved, but do what you can to work things out apart from the legal system.

Adapted from We Need to Talk by Dr. Linda Mintle (Baker, 2015)

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