You have separated. You have children with your ex; you have the kids living with you most of the time.How do you share the parenting?
Who then is responsible for decisions, making parental choices and all those other things that parents have to manage when apart.
The two of you may have different perspectives on how the children should be raised, the behaviour of the other parent, the rules the children need to follow and what they should or should not be doing.
It is necessary to understand that each of you may have your own style of parenting. It may be different, not necessarily right or wrong. The one thing you need to do with your ex is to at times communicate in regards to the children. This applies not only when they are young but when they are teens and adults as well. They will have graduations, celebrations, birthdays, engagement, marriage, the birth of grandchildren, christenings, and the list continues.
You may have two different perspectives every time you have to interact with your ex. Every contact may be a challenging. The stress it causes is what you allow to penetrate. If you allow these interactions within you, therefore you have the capacity to deflect them. Truth is, you both probably do not like each other, hence the reason you are no longer together.
The way each of you parents your children, is now up to each of you individually. Trying to list or discuss the basics is good. Things such as – foods to avoid, bedtime consistency, manners, what they are permitted to watch, video games they are permitted to play and so on. Consistency is important for all children. It allows the children to understand where the line in the sand is drawn and where their boundaries are clearly displayed. If rules are different in each house, while annoying, it doesn’t make a huge difference to the child. They quickly learn and understand the differences and the expectation in each household.
It is essential you Never speak to or about the other parent in a detrimental manner. Children love both of you. They love spending time with each of you and may become distressed or even cry not wanting to leave you. This does not mean they do not like or want to be with the other parent; it simply means they may miss being with you and they really do not want you to be sad when they leave. Putting on a brave face for the children when they are leaving you is hard, but try you must. Smile, hug and look forward to seeing them soon is essential to help them feel secure.
Keep your communications with the ex, very business-like and not emotional. It is pointless to blame them for past indiscretions or mistakes; you know their behaviour is questionable hence why you are no longer with them.
Showing emotion may give the other parent power and playing into what is likely their belief you are out of control, over emotional and pathetic. Be strong, speak calmly and quietly and never ever speak about them personally or in an angry manner in front of the children.
Follow these points to keep yourself in control and logical in your dealings with them to remain authoritative.
The following 6 points will really help you gain control and remain in charge when communicating and dealing with your ex:
Keep all communications short
Less is best. No need to have colourful lengthy detailed conversations as this can lead to other topics where conflict may overtake you. Speak only about issues relating to the children and only current relevant issues.
Limit all communications
Limit the topic to one or two topics for each conversation. Where there are a number of things to discuss, try writing it in an email instead. Lengthy conversations are dangerous. Speak about drop off or pick up times or what the children require from the other parent. There is no need to respond to the other parent about what they are doing or where they are going as the children can share this if they wish. You don’t need to.
Decide how you will both communicate
Decide if phone conversations, text messages or emails are the best way to communicate. Usually, the latter two are best and when in writing it is harder to say “I never said that” or “I told you that”. Do not be pushed to speak on the phone if this is uncomfortable for you. Text instead so you never need to hear their voice if this is stressing to you.
Decide when you will both communicate
If it is phone contact you have decided on, then a specified time and day are best. Hence why text and emails are best as it provides time to respond thoughtfully rather than reactively. Keep contact to one per week maximum, unless there is a major issue of concern. Have decided specific times when you and the other parent speak to the children.
Approach each communication or meeting with a systematic business-like approach
When we remove emotion, logic reigns. When emotions are escalated, logic fails to exist and things can go off the rails very quickly. This is when we do and say things we wish we hadn’t. Keep all communications business-like so emotions are kept in check. This type of communication will greatly assist the children when you may need to spend time together.
Imagine a positive outcome
Our subconscious mind can’t differentiate between real and imagined, so when we imagine a positive outcome; our mind believes it to be true. When we replay this, in reality, a positive outcome is more easily obtained as it becomes a subconscious expectation.
The important thing to remember is you are in control. Your ex no longer has any control over you. You have likely already lost enough in this relationship breakdown, refuse to give any more of you, your time, or emotions. Time to take control.
If you are struggling, please consider getting the Relationship Recovery session designed to help you move on quickly and get over your ex. Imagine how amazing you will feel when this person no longer has any control over your thoughts or feelings when they are a distant annoying memory of the past. Numb is what you want to feel, absolute numbness about them, their thoughts, behaviours and comments.
Your kids will be the winners because they will have at least one parent who sees themselves as a proactive parent and not a battle-weary parent barely coping.
Instead of beating yourself up for what has happened in the past, start imagining yourself behaving differently the next time you have to interact with them. Imagine you being able to remain in control regardless of their behaviour or words. Remember, it remains completely up to you what you allow to penetrate in or what you choose to deflect as drivel.
See this person as your children’s other parent who needs to be as good a parent as they’re capable of being because your children deserve that.
For more information, please contact Dr Karen through the contact page. As a registered Family Mediator with the Attorney General’s Department, I may be able to assist, advise and help complete your Parenting Plan and communications with your ex.