When I left my ex, my daughter’s father, I was preparing for a nasty court battle for child support and custody. Our reasons for parting ways wasn’t due to our daughter. She did deserve parents who were happy. That decision was the right choice.
Leaving on terms that we could both agree upon provided stability and a chance for my daughter to have a meaningful relationship with her father. I’ve known of several relationships where the child(ren) get used as pawns, which is unfair to and it’s hard enough not having their parents getting along.
Steve and I are a rarity and still remain the best of friends. Leading to a happy little girl. We’ve made a conscious decision to follow the advice of Dr. Phil on co-parenting.
Here’s a following list of Do’s and Don’ts:
- Sit down with your ex and make an affirmative plan that sets aside any differences you may have and focuses instead on meeting the needs of your children.
- Agree with your ex that you absolutely won’t disparage each other to your children. Further, forbid your children to speak disrespectfully about the other parent, even though it may be music to your ears.
- Negotiate and agree on how you can best handle such things as handing off the children for visitation, holidays, or events.
- Agree on boundaries and behavioral guidelines for raising your children so that there’s consistency in their lives, regardless of which parent they’re with at any given time.
- Negotiate and agree on the role extended family members will play and the access they’ll be granted while your child is in each others charge.
- Communicate actively with your ex about all aspects of your child’s development.
- Recognize that children are prone to testing a situation and manipulating boundaries and guidelines, especially if there’s a chance to get something they may not ordinarily be able to obtain.
- Compare notes with your ex before jumping to conclusions or condemning one another about what may have happened.
- Although it may be emotionally painful, make sure that you and your ex keep each other informed about changes in your life circumstances so that the child is never, ever the primary source of information.
- Commit to conducting yourself with emotional integrity.
- Never use your child as a pawn to get back at or hurt your ex.
- Never use your child to gain information or to manipulate and influence your ex.
- Never transfer hurt feelings and frustrations toward your ex onto your child.
- Never force your child to choose a side when there’s a conflict in scheduling or another planning challenge.
- Never turn family events into pressure cookers.
- Never depend too much on your child for companionship and support because you’re hurt and lonely.
- Never treat your child like an adult because you’re lonely or just want help.
- Never become so emotionally needy that your child develops feelings of guilt if he or she spends time with others.
- Never convert guilt into overindulgence when it comes to satisfying your child’s material desires.
- Focus on what your child needs during this difficult time: acceptance, assurance of safety, freedom from guilt or blame for their parents’ break up, structure, and stable parents who have the strength to conduct business and the ability to let them just be kids.
By following these guidelines, Steve and I have kept this out of the court system. Even better we are able to go on outings as a “family.” We’ve never gotten along better and are better parents because of this.