Divorce and separation are right up there in terms of life stressors, and it can get even more complicated if you have parted on bad terms. Yet if there children involved, in most cases, you will need to find a way to co-parent with your ex.
It sounds impossible – you are still carrying a lot from the breakdown of the relationship and you may still be grieving it’s loss; or feeling very angry – or a mix of both.
The very thought of them triggers you, yet you know they will be coming around soon to pick up the kids.
I have worked with numerous clients in this situation, here are some tips that can help:
- Make it about the children – sure your ex still winds you up something crazy, but try to divert your energy and attention to the kids and what is best for them.
- In the early days, communicating via email and text message may be easiest, until you feel a bit more in control emotionally.
- If it feels like every conversation you have with your ex dwells on the past, it could be time to see a counsellor to explore what is occurring for you.
- Try not to ask too many questions about what the children are doing when they were with your ex – obviously some information may be necessary, but keep a check on yourself about your reason to know things.
- Don’t trash your ex to your children – it can be really tempting but you’ll probably regret it. If there are particular traits you really struggle with regarding your ex, your children are no doubt going to realise some of these as they grow older.
- Keep kids away from conflict – most research in this area shows that it is not relationship breakdown as much that affects children, it is the conflict that occurs between the parents afterwards.
Hopefully these tips are helpful! If this is something you are struggling with, please get in touch. It may be important also to consider mediation or legal advice. Please contact me if you need further information – Karen.