In Part One of Co-Parenting Through Divorce, we talked about how important it is for you to get on with your own personal emotional work and redefine the self as part of your healing process.
This hard work will help make you a better parent through your divorce. If you are bitter and angry, and can't find new activities, interests and new joys in life, it will show up in your parenting.
Try to keep in mind your child has enough of his own emotional and psychological material top process around the divorce without you piling your own stuff up on it.
You may have enough bitter and angry feelings towards your ex-partner to fill a long blog. If you need to write about your experience, keep your work private. Not everything is meant for public consumption. If your children come across a work of hatred directed towards your ex-partner, it will be hard for them to process it. Children often say they have the experience of feeling like their bodies and minds are being torn in half when being asked to choose between their parents. They love you both. It hurts.
In Part Two, we'll talk about the emotional effort of revising your relationship with your ex-partner, so you can continue the work of co-parenting. The goal is to shift to a business-like relationship with your ex-partner. In time, some people may even achieve a friendship-type relationship, but it's not always possible. So for the moment, strive for business-like behavior.
The process to shift from feelings of intimacy, deep trust, reliance and best friendship to a more business-like feeling is a long process. So, be kind to yourself as you do this emotional work as well. Acknowledge it's not easy and you need to make an effort to make this happen.
Be realistic and kind to yourself through your efforts: there's a lot of strong emotion involved and learning to manage your emotions is a life-long process and skill.
Fourteen Ways to Manage Co-Parenting:
- Remember you are still a parent and you can still be a good parent
- Take care of yourself, don't abuse yourself with extreme destructive emotions of blame and shame
- Practice RADICAL ACCEPTANCE of the situation
- Practice Emotional Awareness: Work to understand and manage your emotions (don't be afraid to get professional support)
- Practice Relaxation: Learn the many relaxation practices
- Avoid extreme behaviors
- Don't fall into false black and white thinking; there are some truths on both sides, not just yours
- Walk the middle way
- Develop a business model for relating to your ex-partner
- You and your ex-partner are on the management team, not your children
- Don't endlessly discuss custody arrangements with your children; this sets up the parentified child construct
- Don't harp on how much you still love or hate your ex-partner; this causes your children to become your caretaker and also sets up the parentified construct
- Strive for smooth transitions for kids; act like you are at work, don't engage in screaming matches
- Strive for reasonable amounts of contact while your kids are with the other parent; don't smother them
Nine Positive Parenting Tips:
- Actively strive to love and appreciate your children
- Be verbal about how your positive feelings
- Hug, kiss, cuddle them
- Discipline in a balanced way. If you need some help defining this,
- Active Parenting is a well-respected model of parenting that is taught across the country and offers online courses
- Respect your children as people
- Your children need to have their friends and normal activities
- Your child's schoolwork must take priority
- Get help when you feel overwhelmed