BUILDING A PARENTING RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR EX
you develop a positive relationship with a former spouse? This may
be the last thing you feel like doing, but if children are involved
itĦs important to learn how to cooperate. You donĦt have to be friends
with--or even like your ex-spouse. You do need to make a mutual commitment
to lay down your weapons of destruction for the childrenĦs sake.
change what happened between you and your ex, but you can change your
attitude. And to do that you will have to practice forgiveness. This
doesnĦt necessarily mean that you are acknowledging that whatever
your ex did was right. It just means you donĦt want to hold a grudge
any longer. You want to put the past behind you.
EFFECT OF DIVORCE ON CHILDREN
the media have painted a very negative picture of the impact on children
and families breaking up. The Judith Wallerstein study, which describes
a generation of children as permanently scarred by divorce, has been
widely discussed on TV talk shows and the press. But such reports
donĦt take into account the fact that childrenĦs responses to divorce
vary widely. A study from Tufts University, for example, found that
the social behavior of children from both divorced and intact families
seems to be related to how the parents cope with conflict and whether
they can cooperate as parents. When parents can move beyond their
anger, resentment and blame, their children are in a much better position
to come through a divorce well adjusted.
is children are resilient and they can grow up happy, healthy and
well adjusted in divorced homes. However some basic conditions must
be met in order for this to happen:
feel free to love both parents.
access to both parents
without being placed in loyalty conflicts.
need to rebuild their lives
after a divorce and shift their roles to parenting partners.
DO YOU BUILD A PARENTING PARTNERSHIP?
step is to separate how you feel about your former spouse as a marriage
partner from how you feel about him or her as a parent. Business people,
for example, donĦt have to like each other to have a successful relationship.
But certain guidelines are followed. These guidelines can also apply
to your dealings with your ex-spouse: communicate clearly, act courteously,
offer a minimum of self-disclosure, and take responsibility for your
How you feel
about the other parent is less important than how you act toward him
or her. You may not like your ex-spouse, but try to say positive
things about him or her in front of your kids.
your mutual need for privacy.
DonĦt go into the other parentĦs house without permission or an invitation.
Keep the details of your personal life to yourself. The only information
you need to communicate should pertain to your children.
time with the children is sacred. DonĦt make other plans or change
plans on your former spouseĦs time.
what the other parent has to offer to your children and keep in mind that each parent has the right to develop his
or her own parenting style even though it is different from yours.
As long as no harm is being done to your children (no neglect, no
emotional, physical, or sexual abuse) the other parent can relate
to the children as he or she sees fit. The more you allow your ex-spouse
to develop a personal parenting style the more involved and responsible
he or she will be.
Bear in mind
that timing may be an issue.
Parents often donĦt agree at the same time to build a parenting partnership.
One person usually takes the initiative while the other tries to hang
on to old ways. Expect to feel uncomfortable at first about relating
to your ex-spouse in a more formal manner. There may be a gap between
how you feel and how you act, but as with any new skill you will get
better with practice.
from Work & Family Life newsletter, edited by Susan Ginsberg)