Conflicts are all but certainties when it comes to divorced parents. They may disagree on various aspects of raising their children, from schooling to discipline. As a coparent, it is your duty to ensure a safe and responsible upbringing for your child, regardless of the negative feelings you may harbor toward your ex. Smoothing over conflicts and maintaining amicable relations with your coparent is ultimately the best way to handle your post-divorce reality in Tulsa.
Always Put Your Children First
Being civil is often difficult, especially if you feel as though your ex has wronged you in a significant way. However, maintaining civility is what is best for your children. If the court has ruled in favor of joint custody, it’s necessary to remember the court has a duty to rule in the best interests of your children, and numerous studies all support the belief that children benefit most from access to both of their parents.
No matter how difficult it may be to make any kind of concessions to your ex, it’s vital to remember that no matter how you may feel about your ex, they are still part of your child’s life. If they were a dangerous influence on your child, the court would not have approved joint custody. Remember that your child deserves access to your ex as a parent and do your best not to interfere with their relationship.
Let Go of Personal Vendettas
Marriages break down for all kinds of reasons, but it is never the children’s fault, so they should not suffer for the issues that exist between their parents. If your marriage has come to an end, there is little to no reason to dwell on past resentments. You may have psychological issues related to your broken marriage, but it is up to you to seek help in addressing them and your children should not suffer from your hang-ups about your ex. Ending a marriage is difficult, but if you are spiteful or resentful toward your ex for personal reasons these behaviors will inevitably influence your relationship with your child.
Imagine your ex asks for a minor adjustment to your custody schedule. Maybe they have a serious issue at work and they need you to keep the kids for an extra day or two, or maybe their relatives are planning a vacation that would require you to give up a few of your days with your kids. These issues appear all the time, and it’s vital to remember that there are many ways to resolve these conflicts. Don’t assume that your ex is asking for these changes with some ulterior motive. Instead of assuming the worst, ask for clarification if there is any confusion about a proposed one-time change or another issue your ex brings up with you.
Take Time to Handle Difficult Issues
Handling a difficult situation can be even more challenging when you feel like you need to provide a response immediately. If you are confronted with a difficult issue, give yourself time to think things through as completely as you can. Rushing a response will only increase the emotional turbulence of the situation and increase the likelihood of future resentments and conflict between you and your ex.
Choose Words and Tone Carefully
People interpret body language to a deeper level than most people realize. Digital communication is also difficult to navigate at times, as there are many possible ways to read a text-based message. When you communicate with your ex, try to choose your words carefully and opt for spoken communication over text-based communication. Many conflicts arise from miscommunication, so if you are as clear and polite as possible in your interactions, you are more likely to avoid them and keep things agreeable with your coparent.
Don’t Focus on “Winning”
When you compete with your coparent in any way, you could feel like you’ve “won,” but it’s really your kids that lose. Overcoming conflict is not about learning how to “win” all the time, but rather how to adopt a resolution-oriented perspective and maintain focus on your children’s best interests. It’s vital to let go of the need to always be right because frankly, there will come a time when you won’t be. It may be necessary to make concessions or admit you are wrong about something from time to time. Learning to approach these situations with grace and maturity ultimately helps everyone in the end, your children most of all.
Never Use Your Kids as Leverage
If there is any golden rule to follow when it comes to dealing with a difficult coparent, it’s this. Do not use your kids as leverage against an ex. Don’t threaten to keep them longer than your court-ordered time allows without good reason, and don’t ever threaten to run away with them. Even making empty threats like these just to get a rise out of your ex will come back to haunt you later. Eventually, your kids will learn that you used them to manipulate their other parent, and this will severely damage your relationships with them.
Never talk poorly about your children’s coparent in front of them. If your kids start telling you about things your ex has said about you, plan to have a private discussion with your ex at a neutral location when your kids aren’t around so you can discuss these issues like adults. Children already need to adapt tremendously to cope with divorce in healthy ways, and their parents should not be using them as sounding boards to air grievances about one another.
Let Go and Move On
If you’re divorced and have a child custody arrangement with your ex, then you need to remember that your broken marriage is in the past and clinging to old resentments isn’t doing anyone any favors, least of all your children. It’s possible that you may have unresolved issues about your failed marriage, but it’s your responsibility to address those issues in healthy and constructive ways, such as seeking counseling for yourself on your own time.
Most conflicts between coparents arise out of long-held negative emotions about one another. Whatever the reasons are for the marriage failing are ultimately moot when it comes to being parents. Coparents no longer have duties toward one another as spouses, but they must still learn how to function cohesively as parents for the sake of their children.