The Other Parent – Including the Ones you Left Behind

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Divorce can be a messy subject. Many times divorce comes from broken trust and inconsolable differences. Many times the issue of divorce can leave ex-spouses unable to speak with each other, let alone be in the same room for more than a couple minutes. But how are you supposed to navigate these relationships when you have children together? What are some steps you can take to work at including the ‘other’ parent in parenting? What are you to do and how are you to do it? Below are a few tips that will help any divorced parent work through bitterness and include the other parent in parenting the kids.

Call a Truce

From the beginning divorced parents must come together and form an agreement for the good of the children. Some parents may need to do this formally – like with a lawyer – but most will be able to either type an ‘agreement’ out (so it can be reviewed) or have a simple conversation. This agreement or truce can then work to be the foundation that you come to again and again to remember why you are working alongside your ex-spouse.

Divorced Parents

Say Nothing at All

Words are powerful. One way that you can include your ex-spouse in the parenting process is to only speak well of them. When you are around your children your spouse must always be cast in a good light (neutral minimally). This is important, especially for younger children through their teen years. You don’t have to lift them up as a saint, but if you do not have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.

Discipline Dos

Always try to give your ex-spouse the benefit of the doubt during discipline. If they are trying to do the right things don’t nag or nitpick. Only when they are undermining your authority is it worth having a serious discussion about discipline. One way to set a good course is to discuss the nature of discipline when you form your parenting agreement.

Continue the Conversation

This may be extremely difficult, but remember whom it is for. Try to regularly get together with your ex-spouse to discuss how it is going. If you were still married you would discuss how you are parenting, but now it is even more important. Meet over coffee. Be positive. Work out small issues. Compromise on some things for the greater purposes and make sure and work out any guidelines you feel strongly about!

Move Forward…Slowly

This is crucial. Don’t use your children to fulfill the companionship need you have. You will only be setting yourself up for failure if you do. Move on from your ex and begin building a life with friends and family. Join a gym and encourage your ex-spouse to do the same. If a new relationship begins to bud be sure and speak openly with your ex about it. Take it slow introducing this relationship to your children; in fact it is important to go at the pace you would want your ex to go at. Ultimately communication is key. You are now parenting together (separately) and this comes with many issues, but if you keep the field of communication open and you are peaceable you can succeed!

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