A relationship between two parents does not stop after the divorce papers and parenting plan are signed.
Recognize that the co-parenting relationship is a process which evolves into something different in the post-divorce period.
Serena is divorced with two young daughters and thought the relationship with their father would just fall into its own natural rhythm. She assumed that they would naturally know how to communicate and was surprised when this did not happen.
There were triggers that set them each off and she learned to go on and mistakes will happen. What improved communication was ceasing phone calls and doing most of it by text. Texting enabled it to be more impersonal and helped Serena to delete emotion from the content.
Understanding that males and females have different styles of communication, allows Serena to just present facts or a simple request without a long story. One time she wanted the girls returned two hours later, but gave a detailed reason why. Her ex was fine with the request itself, but became embroiled in the reason for it, and they had an argument.
Serena has tips for raising children in two households and being on the same page with their other parent.
Keep kids out of your dating/sex life.
When married, her four year old was the one who broke the news of her husband’s affair (Daddy loves your friend and she loves Daddy).
Post-divorce they agreed to wait at least three months before introducing a new love interest to the children. She was floored when this same child talked about Daddy’s new girlfriend that he met last week and what a great cat and dog she has. Then the father took the youngsters on a camping trip with Amy, a week or so later, during which the adults had some private time in their tent.
Save sex for when the kids are not right there.
Serena met Amy at her daughters’ school faire. Her ex put his hand down inside Amy’s trousers on her bum, in front of many children. At least at family and school events, Serena suggests having decorum.
School events are a time when both parents want to see their kids. Recognize your comfort zone and whether you want to sit together or not. Serena realized that the girls are happy to have their parents in the audience and their seating arrangement is unimportant.
Decide on the importance of school attendance. Serena got a call from school one day asking why her daughters were not there. Serena is a teacher and became very upset. Her ex had taken the girls camping over a bank holiday which happened to be on his birthday. He did not ask/inform Serena that he was keeping the girls from school for a day.
Have pick up/drop off in a neutral location, such as the kids’ school.
Serena allowed their father to come over on some mornings, fix the girls breakfast and get them off to school when he had visitation. Serena had to be at her school early before her daughters’ classes started, so it seemed like this was a good arrangement.
She was caught in the façade of “happy family” and this delayed getting over her ex and marriage. Her wounds were raw from her ex’s infidelity and seeing him moving around her house made them feel worse.
A clean break would have been the best for moving on.
When Serena instigated the school for the exchanges, it made such a difference for her.
Energetically the house feels 100% hers (previously the marital home), now that her ex no longer comes over there. For shared care, they have a large carrier bag that contains jackets and other items that go between houses. Otherwise, they have clothes at each house.
In the past, Serena and her former spouse got together on holidays with the girls. There was tension between them and friction with each other’s extended families. It helps that Serena is Christian and her ex is Jewish, so there are less compromises to make regarding the religious days.
Her daughters are asking to have more time with their mother and Serena rues that the mediator set up 50/50 shared time. She is going back to the mediator to work with their father to get a schedule with less transitions and more time at her house. Serena is happy that her girls have a close relationship with their father and feels that co-parenting is getting a little easier as time goes by.
Wendi Schuller is a nurse, hypnotherapist and is certified in Neuro-linguistic Programing (NLP).
Her most recent book is The Global Guide to Divorce and she has over 200 published articles.
She is a guest on radio programs in the US and UK. Her website is globalguidetodivorce.com.