Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

child-1439468_1920“I’ve asked my ex spouse to please pick up the kids at the house at 6:00 for the weekend, but he doesn’t follow through.” “She says she will have the children ready for their visit, but they aren’t ready.” ” I just want him to do what he says and not always make me the one who has to deal with the children’s disappointments.”

Dealing with you ex spouse can be frustrating and annoying. The same issues that were present when married can be amplified when you divorce. And, unresolved issues from the divorce can get played out through the children if you aren’t careful. However, when it comes to parenting, it’s time to put the past in the past and agree on the goal of cooperative parenting. Maybe you couldn’t agree on much when married, but now is the time to think about how conflict and disagreement impact your kids.

In fact, parenting now should be handled like a business partnership. Just like you would with a business partner, stay calm and interact in ways that are civil. Stick to facts and don’t get drawn into emotional battles. Do not engage in emotional drama. If things get heated on the phone, tell your ex that you are happy to resume the conversation when things are calmer. Let him or her know ahead of time that you will hang up the phone if emotions run high and words and actions go negative. There will be a time-out to calm down and re-engage later. If personal conversations are too difficult, agree to communicate via email or a parenting portal that both of you will regularly check. Basically, agree on how to communicate, when to communicate and what the timeline will be for decisions.

In terms of your mindset, try to approach parenting positively. The contention of the marriage is behind you, not move forward and minimize the damage to your kids by acting on their behalf. The more negative you are about the motives of your ex, the more you will interpret his or her actions negatively. It’s not your job to interpret their motives, rather focus on behavior and what needs to get done. If there is a lack of follow through, circle around on the terms of agreement and the facts at hand.

The key to handling your ex is to move to a more transactional style of cooperation. Only discuss issues involving the children. This is an important boundary. No name-calling, threats or  using kids to get back at your ex. Don’t flaunt your freedom, lifestyle or new partner. Be friendly and compromise where you can to make things work for your children. Above all, work on letting go of anger and unforgiveness so they don’t spill out in front of your children. Children need both parents and don’t need to be caught in the middle of unresolved issues. Since your time is now limited with your ex, focus on the good qualities of the person.

 

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