Single Parenting: Working Together after Split
Working Divorce: If You Have Children, Create a Relationship that Works
By CARL PICKHARDT
Divorced parents need to “remarry” around their shared commitment to the children’s welfare by creating a workable relationship for those children’s sake. Just because ex-spouses no longer have a loving relationship does not mean they cannot now create an amicable one. They can, and many do. The challenge for divorced partners with children is to create a working divorce, forging a partnership to support the care and growth of their children in whatever ways they can. What does a working divorce look like? Here are five components to consider, or five objectives to work for, if you so choose.
1. Adequate communication.
Keep each other sufficiently informed about what is going on with the children when they are in your care, and deal with any disagreements in a non-evaluative and cooperative way. "In this instance, I disagree with what you want for the children, this is why, and this is what I think might work better instead. I would like for us to talk and work something out that we can both support."
2. Emotional reconciliation.
Let go any unrequited feelings of love or hard feelings from past hurts so that both partners are emotionally free to move on joined only by the common caring they share for the children.
3. Social cooperation.
Keep parenting agreements so you both feel you can count on each other’s commitments to share responsibility for the children’s welfare and care, and still be flexible to make changes when unexpected parental or child need arises.
4. Mutual support.
Create consistency of arrangements between households (like following a medication schedule or supervising homework for a child’s good) and back the other parent up with children around a disciplinary demand with which you agree, where the other parent can benefit from your support.
5. Personal respect.
Do not expect or demand that the ex-spouse’s household be run in a similar fashion, with similar values, routines, and rules to your own. Unless child safety is at issue, accept the diversity between the two households as reflecting honorable (and usually increasing) lifestyle differences between the two parents. Why work toward these objectives? For the sake of your children. Just consider what it is like for children who live between parents who have a non-working divorce, as some parents unhappily do.