Divorcing with kids: becoming separate parents

Divorcing is not easy and it’s painful. When you have kids you’ll always be in contact with the other parent, at least if you have shared custody of the kids, of any sort. It’s not easy to move from being a couple to being parents of the same kids. But there are ways to make through the end of the couple and becoming a team of parents. Think it his way: you both love your kids, you both decided to have and take care of them, you both want to be a part of their lives going forward. What better than to finish your couple issues once and for all and start getting ready to parent your kids. Here are some tips that you can use to transition from your couple to being parents after your divorce:

Step one: take care of unfinished issues by having the conversations about the issues that were the hardest. You’re already out of the marriage, and even if the other person won’t change the way you want them to, you’ll still have to be in contact to discuss many things regarding your kids. Clear the air as much as possible of old recriminations based on a life that is now over and move on. This is not easy, and you might need help from a therapist to go through it. Believe this is one of the best gift you can give to your family. Having a friendly relationship between parents will make the pain easier to carry, for everybody.

Step two: Find common ground for the future of your kids. You’ve been parenting together for so long, come up with the things you share regarding the kids: start small, you love them, education is important, and so on. As you start living separated, you’ll start seeing some things under a different light. Make sure you keep your conversations about the kids, just between the two of you. Don’t include the kids in the discussions, unless they’re older (like 18, I mean). Keep the adult matters between you two. Making the kids participate will get them confused and you might undermine the parental authority of the other parent. At the beginning, also, you might fight some and you don’t want your kids to suffer more.

Step three: Make sure you understand that having two houses, the kids will have different house rules, talk to the kids together and tell them what to expect. For me it was realizing I didn’t care much about rules regarding the house as my ex did, so in our new house, I was a lot more relaxed about it. The kids had to learn that we had different rules in different houses. Explain it to them: just tell them, this will not change, but these things might, and it’s all right. They’re smarter than you think and they’ll try to take advantage of the differences. Being a team with your ex will makes dealing with these situations a lot easier. Communication between the parents is so important.

Step four: Do you best all the time, do not compare to one another, you’re different people that can’t be married, it doesn’t mean you can’t still work in the same team as parents. Something really funny happens after a divorce, and it’s that each parent wants to be the chosen one. I was there, and fought it consciously to avoid more pain for my family. You should do the same. There is no winning game to be played. This is your new life and your kids need both parents to grow and thrive. Keep it simple tell them you love as often as you can and never talk badly of the other parent in front of them. Remember they love you both!

Step five: Have some family days when you all get together, even if it’s a lunch or a walk in the park. The younger your kids, the better if you can spend an afternoon playing board games together and still have fun. I can’t stress enough that because you got divorced you didn’t stop being a family. It’s just a different type of family, not better, not worse. The more you tell yourself this, the more you’ll understand that the best you can do is keep a good relationship with your ex in everything related to your kids. Believe it pays off greatly.

Do not get stuck in the drama. It gets better with time. Divorce is painful for everybody, the sooner you get on with a new routine and new standards, the sooner everyone will come out of the pain. Time is a healer, but we need to do our best all the time. If you need extra support, you can contact me, or another counsellor, talk to friends, go to a support group for divorced parents. Do not isolate yourself thinking you’re the only one going through his painful time, reach out always.

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