It’s A Different Relationship After All: Post-divorce parenting
In a prior post, I wrote: Is it unreasonable to think there are things we can do to better that post-divorce relationship? It is a different relationship, after all.
I’d like to examine what, exactly, that new relationship looks like.
For instance, how do you parent now that you are no longer a team?
When your ex gives the kids ice cream for dinner, doesn’t bathe them on his overnight and forgets to pack a sandwich in their lunches, how will you react? He’s not going to change – and chances are good that when you were together, he was just as forgetful, making different decisions than you would have.
Except then, you accepted it as the balance of the marriage and you were on-hand to rectify any glaring errors. You’re not anymore – so how are you going to deal with it?
Divorced parents must understand that parents are going to parent in their own way, and unlike when you were married, your ex-spouse is no longer open to your feedback on her approach to parenting.
You have less control now post-divorce, so the best approach is to let go of the worry, anxiety, anger and need to control. It does no good to hang on to any of it.
I frequently tell clients, “You didn’t like the way your spouse parented when you were together; you have even less control after the divorce. That’s one of the hardest things to do.”
There’s no law or statute that says you have to let go but maybe we should enact one! I’d love it if every judgment included a comment to the effect that “it is further ordered that you must let go…your expectations need to be reasonable.” It’s so hard to do.
Don’t expect stellar communication. You’re divorced. If you communicated well, you might still be married.
Don’t expect your ex to share in costs. Stop having arguments. Make your peace with the way your ex parents. It’s going to happen whether you accept it or not.
The best thing you can do is be the parent you want to be and the kids will see, as they grow up, who to turn to in various situations. That’s exactly how it would have happened had you stayed married.
The ultimate truth is that your two households are different. Dad may allow some things at his house while Mom allows others at hers. Talk to your children and explain discrepancies.
Be as positive as you can about two different sets of rules. Don’t disparage the other parent. When you make your peace, the kids will, too.
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