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Co-Parents, Co-Pilots

200258257-001The first month of the New Year is about to come to a close, and if January is still the most popular month for divorce, many find themselves facing the task of rebuilding their lives. You may feel pain, resentment, and confusion over the situation, but the world still continues to turn, as divorced parents are fully aware. So hold yourself together, pick yourself up, and start rebuilding your life.

However, we have one caveat when rebuilding your life, and it concerns children. If you and your ex had children, just realize it will be impossible (and probably unhealthy) to try to rebuild without including your ex. We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: You can stop being someone’s spouse, but you can’t stop being someone’s parent.

Erasing the ‘Bad Parent’ Feeling

It will be difficult to still allow the person who caused (and causes) you so much pain to still have any part of your life, but there are a few ways to try to make it work. Just a few words of wisdom before we launch into what seems like a Herculean task: These tips are guidelines, which might be terribly difficult to follow.

Just recognize no one is (or should) be expecting you to be able to follow these guidelines immediately. Think of them as an end goal in this whole situation. No one is perfect, and the last thing you need is to be left feeling inadequate or like a lesser person for not being able to shut off your feelings.

Rebuilding Your Life, With Your Ex

You and your ex need to establish your roles as divorced parents, and how that will play out for the rest of the children’s lives. Here are a few goals to aspire to in your new “co-parenting” journey.

  • Keep Civil Rights Alive: You don’t have to be buddy-buddy, but avoid being antagonistic. So be civil, even if there are some things or words of your ex’s that make you want to laser beam them into ashes. This will give your children a feeling of stability, instead of making them as though they have to suit up like a S.W.A.T. team whenever their parents are together.
  • Planning Makes Perfect: Collaborate on a schedule for the children. Planning for who will have the kids on holidays and such will eliminate stress, high-strung emotions, and probably tears. It will also allow for a more peaceful co-parenting transition for the children.
  • You Are Not the Gestapo: You know how the secret police in Nazi Germany would hold 24 hour or longer interrogations, making people confess to what the Gestapo wanted to hear? Don’t do that. When your children come home from time with your ex, don’t fire off rounds of questions. You may ask “Did you have fun?,” but questions about your ex’s personal life are off limits. Also, if you have questions about the schedule, ask your ex. Keep the children out of the middle for your sanity and theirs.
  • Don’t Play Hide-And-Seek: Get used to being in the same room, at the same time, as your ex. It will be difficult for quite a while, but don’t let these moments of brief contact be about the contact. Chances are, the contact will be necessary for the children (school plays, parent-teacher meetings, awards ceremonies, graduation, recitals, and so much more). This will make future functions easier on both of you, as well as keep your child from being addicted to anxiety pills.

There is one last giant addition to this list, but its so important to fully understand, it requires its own blog. So just bear with us, and we’ll get to it tomorrow. In the meantime, let us know what you think about these tips/guidelines/ goals (whatever you want us to call them). Will they be difficult or easy? Are there any we missed?

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