Adjusting your parenting style following a divorce can be challenging. This is especially true because emotions often run high between the co-parents after a divorce. However, it is important that you identify your mistakes and take the necessary steps for course correction if you are committed to providing a wholesome upbringing to your child in cooperation with the co-parent. There is a lot you can learn from the mistakes of other co-parents who have been through similar challenges.
Refrain From Making It Ugly in Front of the Kids
You may want to snipe and fight in front of the kids. When married couples call it quits, there are strong feelings associated that can result in heated arguments. Children, regardless of their age, find it scary and upsetting when they hear the people they love the most scream ugliness and display animosity at each other.
You should try and keep your marital disagreements civil for your kids’ sake. Try to seek solutions and invite compromise rather than focusing on right and wrong. You should focus on moving forward instead of rehashing the past. Moreover, never make angry accusations at each other when within earshot of the kids.
You should strive for civility. If you really think you cannot work through the disputes without raising voices and having a heated conversation, you should choose a time when the children are visiting relatives or friends, or when they are in school. One of the hardest habits to break is to stop making disrespectful and sarcastic comments at the other parent in front of children.
Based on this, you need to remember that children don’t pick sides. They generally love both parents equitably. Your snide comments will only make the child feel complicit or uncomfortable. They won’t find the voice to speak in defense of the other parent even if they want to. Stemming from this, they may begin feeling resentful or guilty because of their silence.
Avoid Involving Your Kids in Adult Matters
A child’s emotional well-being comes first, which means not burdening them with grown-up matters. You should not make your kid, even if they are teenagers, privy to the opinions and details of your marriage. They don’t need to know what went wrong, court proceedings, divorce settlements, spousal maintenance, attorney fees, or child support.
Many children begin blaming themselves for the actions of their parents. You should let them know that the door is always open for further discussions and any questions they may have. Children have an uncanny ability to dodge serious discussions with their parents. This is especially true if you have a teen on your hands. You can let them know that you are right there whenever they want to talk.
Kids should know that they are not responsible for fixing things or paying the bills. When you share harsh opinions or private details, you place an unnecessary burden on a child’s mind. The child doesn’t need to know what one parent did to wreck the marriage. It is very frightening and confusing for a child to hear talks about making the other parent pay or get revenge.
Such language can make the child feel bad, especially when one parent chooses to boast about how they made the other parent feel inferior in court. Children are neither counselors nor confidants. You should instead have the divorce discussions with your therapist, friend, or divorce attorney. Make sure your kids can’t overhear these conversations.
Don’t Use Your Child as a Messenger
Your child may mention something about the other parent’s life. It could be a new love interest, a new house, travel plans, or something similar. You need to resist the urge to ask for details. Kids find themselves in a deeply unsavory position of ratting out or spying when adults use them for information.
They feel torn between not obeying someone they love and loyalty towards the other parent. Don’t ask your kids to report back to you after visiting the other parent. Also, don’t use your kids as an intermediary or a messenger. Notify your ex yourself if you want them to know something. You should not overshare about your life as well. Your kid should not be used to glean information about how the other parent reacts to happenings in your life.
If you think there are things that may affect your child directly, you should ask your ex. You can also request your ex in writing to communicate with you directly if you think they are trying to deliver messages or learn information about you using the child.
Are You the One at Fault?
It is never too late to establish good co-parenting habits. It is alright to make mistakes. You can talk with your children if you regret any transgressions. You can tell your children that you are sorry for saying things that were not meant to be heard by them. You can also apologize for placing them in an unfair situation.
Tell them you would do better in the future. An adult accepting their mistakes and apologizing always sets a positive example for children. You should also demonstrate a willingness to change. Having this conversation will help lay the groundwork for a better relationship.
Respect their Needs and Set Boundaries
It is easy to fall prey to the urge of being the ‘fun’ parent. You should not let your children do whatever they want. It is important to create a strong foundation for them to lead stable lives. You don’t necessarily need to be strict. And, you should let them have their space. However, you should set clear boundaries and rules.
In fact, experts state that it is best to follow the same routine and discipline that the kids are used to before the divorce. This will let the kids know that everything has not changed drastically.
Speak With a Seasoned Family Law Attorney Today
Are you in the middle of a divorce? Are you wondering how co-parenting will fit in with your child custody plan? The compassionate and dependable Alabama family law attorneys at Alsobrook Law Group can help. To schedule a free consultation today with our knowledgeable lawyers, call us at 334-737-3718 or fill out this online contact form.