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There is no hiding from it, divorce affects your children. By working together and co-parenting properly, you can mitigate negative effects of separation and divorce and provide your child(ren) with a positive environment for them to grow up in and develop.
Parenting is a life long process. You may not see the rewards of your sacrifices today or even in the next few years but they will come sooner or later and it is going to be more positive for everyone involved if parents can work together. Let your kids know that you have learned a great deal and are the wiser for it today. They will come to know in their own time that life does not always go as planned and our experiences shape us for what is to come in the future.
So what can you do if your ex cannot let go of blame and resentment and anger? What do you do if you have done everything you know to create a mutually respectful relationship and your ex still is extremely difficult and confrontational? In the end you cannot control someone else but you can control yourself. Be the bigger person. Show your children how to do the right thing. Accept the fact that your ex is who they are and figure out the most effective ways to deal with the situation.
Shelley Stile, Divorce Coach, gives her example to help people in their own separation circumstances.
“For years I railed against my ex because he could never be on time to pick up the kids on his one weekday night with them. Our agreement said he should pick them up by 7pm at the latest so I made plans for myself based on that agreement. Never happened and I now understand that it probably never will. Sometimes he is on time but usually not. I tried to control the situation but all it did was make me angry and frustrated. Worse still, my daughter revealed that she felt like a burden because I was always complaining about not being able to adhere to my night out's schedule.
So I accepted reality and instead always made certain that I had coverage should he be late. I also attempted to have my plans start as late as possible just in case. It was so much easier than fighting a lost cause and it protected my daughter's feelings and self-esteem. In the end, it was not such a big deal. I gave up being right because the price to pay was far too high.”
Shelley goes on to advise; “Here's another challenge for you when dealing with your ex: thank them when they do what's right. Apologise if you say something hurtful or don't honour an agreement. Everyone wants to feel respected. It goes against how we may be feeling but this has to do with creating an environment that will gift your children with peace.
There are indeed strategies that you can adopt in dealing with your children. Always ensure that your kids know that the divorce has nothing to do with them and isn't their fault. To do so you must be honest to a certain degree in an age appropriate manner. Confide in them but stay away from any adult themed moral issues. Remind them that Mum and Dad are still Mum and Dad and that will never change. Always ensure that they feel loved and safe and secure. Don't criticise your ex in front of the kids because then they will feel guilt about loving their parent. Don't force them to make choices and decisions that will put them in a position of choosing between one or the other parent.
Did I do all this? I am sorry to say I did not. I was very angry and resentful and all too often I let those emotions run the show. I have lived and learned. It is a never- ending process. Just recently I called my ex to see if we could repair a misunderstanding for the sake of our wonderful kids. What I have learned is that our emotions hijack us and we say and do things that we know are wrong, albeit after the explosion. If I could do anything differently, it would be to share the knowledge of the skills I now have on controlling emotional reactive behaviour.
Start becoming more aware of your body's cues as to when you are heading into your danger zone of emotional reactivity. Catch yourself before you react and walk away. Take a few minutes to do some deep breathing and get your body and mind back into a rational mode. Perhaps you need to go take a ten-minute walk. Walk away when you become emotional because you are only heading for trouble. When you have returned to a state of equilibrium then and only then decide on the best way to handle the situation.”
The Family Law team at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors have specialist knowledge and experience in dealing with all aspects of family matters. We have specialists who can provide family mediation, advise for a better way through separation and divorce using Resolution and Collaborative law as well as guidance and advice on child care proceedings and domestic violence. Find out more about how our Family Law team can help you here.