Putting your kids first in your divorce, aka the child-centered divorce, is the unicorn in the world of divorce. Why is it a unicorn? Because it rarely happens.
So many good parents get caught-up in trivial disagreements and their own emotions. Before you know it, the parents are justifying their behavior by saying their child is “resilient” and “is fine.”
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Parents who are getting a divorce, even a divorce based upon infidelity, can still put their kids first in divorce by cooperating with the child’s co-parent.
It sounds easy, but it’s actually quite hard for some folks.
You both need to simply talk to each other about your parenting concerns.
Ugg. Talking to the your ex who can’t agree on anything and where everything is a fight? Yuck!
And yet, what is the alternative for the child? If you don’t talk about it with the other parent and try to get on the same page, the child is the one left with navigating through variant positions of the parents.
Who is better equipped to handle that? You or your child?
You know the answer. It’s you.
And because you recognize that, you are on the right path.
The bad news is that the conversation isn’t a one and done. It is an on-going conversation where sometimes everything is smooth and other times it is quite rocky.
The good news is that having these types conversations about your child with the other parent makes your kid’s life easier.
Children with active co-parents are more well-adjusted than their peers, report feeling equally loved by both parents, and secure in their life. They tend to have the same emotional responses and mental health as children from intact families. Well-adjusted, mentally healthy, secure, and equally loved? UNICORN STATUS ACHIEVED!
You can do this! I have faith in you.
So, how do you do it?
Don’t just jump into an important conversation at drop-off/pick-up.
Some co-parents meet for coffee once a month.
Others arrange for a time that works for both parties on an as-needed-basis.
Many co-parents call me and ask me to mediate these conversations. My clients find it helpful to have a neutral party present and provide guidance to the goal: what is best for your child.
Here is my suggestion. Listen to the other parent. REALLY LISTEN to them. Really listening doesn’t mean preparing your rebuttal while they are talking. It means your only focus is understanding what they are saying and, if you are lucky, why they are saying it. Repeat back to them a summary of what you heard them say. Then, and only then, share your thoughts and feelings about the situation. Once you have done that, ask your child’s co-parent to help solve the problem with you. Stay focused on the goal: the best for your child.
If you need some guidance, click here to schedule a 30-minute consultation with me.
If you are getting a divorce and need some additional information, click here to download the pdf version of my book, “Divorce Mediation in Oregon.”