Now the hard part: if you have ANY residual feelings of anger, resentment, or sadness over the break up of your marriage, it is SO hard not to have that spill over into your co-parenting relationship. In the worst instance, the other parent's time with the children can be compromised or denied, support payments with held, or one parent may bad mouth the other to the children. Let me tell you, sometimes it's all I can do to just bite my lip and not say something when I feel I'm being provoked by my Ex. I'm sure she'd tell you the same. At times we're both unsuccessful in keeping things civil. We really struggle to get along. It doesn't help that neither of us are wilting flowers.
Recently, we decided to see a Child Psychologist. There were several issues regarding the other that we just couldn't come to agreement on, so we thought it best to have a "professional referee" in the room to give us strong guidance, with the emphasis on strong. A bit humbling to be put in your place, but as the therapist continues to remind us, she's only there for our daughter's best interest. Follow what she says and Miss M will be the big winner.
Since the Ex and I are still in the conflict phase (although thankfully we've never fought in front of my daughter since our separation), our therapist thought it best for her to establish some ground rules for Ex and me to follow in our co-parenting relationship. I thought I'd share them with my new friends:
- The past is no longer relevant to current decision making and discussions. Leave the past out. Discuss only the issue of today. (man is that one hard!)
- Do not insult each other in emails or in person. Vow never to insult the parent of your child. You can discuss without insults. If you have residual post marital issues to work out, save them for a safe therapy session (either joint child therapy when the child is not present, or with your individual therapist).
- The Spirit of Sharing the joy of parenting your child is the guide to all discussions. Therfore, any time sharing which needs to be discussed, especially Holiday time, will be discussed understanding both parents' desire to be with their child with the goal of finding ways to make this work for everyone, especially the child.
- Be respectful of the other parent. You child is watching and learning how he/she will be treated and who he/she will select for a mate.
- STAY GRATEFUL on a daily basis that you are fighting for more time with your beloved child. This is a great fight (discussion) to have!
I will tell you from experience that this is SO much harder than it looks. Progress not perfection though. I've stumbled way more than I care to admit, but the best thing I can do is just dust myself off and get right back in there. Miss M is the one who will benefit the most!