"Throughout this book, I felt Bruce had a secret window into my own life and private thoughts. Many private feelings I am currently dealing with were addressed and revealed in a manner that made me feel it is not only normal, but I am truly not alone in this. I was surprised that I cried while reading it and the comfort that the words brought me. I read tons of self-help books, among other types of books, and this book actually gives me hope and things to look forward to. My tears were from the fact that I am facing the words I read. I have been getting negative feedback from outside sources and these words reassured me not to listen, keep them out of your life and do what is right. The section on the other home/parent opened my eyes and freed me. I did not go into reading this book thinking it would help me on such a deep emotional level." ~Dorothy Justice, Vice Chair-Community Action Partnership

November 13, 2012

Working Past The Ex, Negativity, and Games

Having to cope with new co-parenting roles while you are just trying to get up on your own feet can get complicated and frustrating.
This article is the fifth segment in a twelve part series I developed for maximizing your opportunities for success after divorce called, “My 12 Point Ladder To Successful Divorce Transition With Children.” The fourth or last segment published, "Integrating into your kid’s lives" is about having new opportunity to build deeper bonds with your children, merely from the additional individual closeness and time together.

This segment, “Working Past The Ex...”, is about utilizing four very simple key points in order to  mitigate the more contentious issues which may arise. By this time in your transitional development, you are starting to live your life with new single status and adjusting to the idea of what may lay ahead for you and your kids as your kids are curious about their new family dynamic. 

The separation is finally behind and you are adjusting to your new life as single parent. You have started to create your own niche with your children while consoling their hearts and trying to focus on their needs as well as your own.

If it were only this easy, it could be manageable. Just you and the kids, on your time, trying to figure things out are workable. Having to cope with new co-parenting roles while you are just trying to get up on your own feet can get complicated and frustrating.

Mutually learning to work together, always thinking of the kids first, would be cause for having a parade in both your honor. The reality is you are divorced because you couldn’t agree, learn to compromise, or work together for the common good. If this weren’t the case, maybe you’d still be married.

Chances are high you are reading this blog because you are looking for inspiration to help with some of your co-parenting challenges. I’m sure its not news for you that its best for you to work well with your
ex spouse for the benefit of the kids.

Needless to say, people grow tired of each other and out of love and that’s not exactly a healthy platform to start working together in a new unfamiliar venue. Heeding this very important characteristic will help you in the long run--maturity and patience are your friends.

There will be plenty of unforeseeable issues (regardless of how much mediation you received, I promise) and both of you will have to find a good balance to work. Both camps are adjusting to new life in separate directions and it’s likely neither will be receiving any priority from the other.

My highest recommendation and therefore greatest benefit for both you and your children is to mitigate a lot of the issues up front. Think about the subtle issues that can be contentious after the separation.

Here is the best advisory to use at any point during the divorce phases—these very simple tasks will help work past the issues, negativity and games with leaps and bounds:

1)    Have a parenting plan
2)    Follow and stick to your decree
3)    Understand your children love both of you
4)    Trust your gifts as a parent

Parenting Plan

Seriously consider a parenting plan if one is not required by your state. You may find outlines or templates easily on the web. Having this document signed and amended to your decree will make it legally binding.

In addition to what’s commonly found on these types of plans, think about the safety and vulnerability of your children: what discipline methods and by whom, parent to parent etiquette-emergency protocols, contact with personal friends/ dating partners, child sitting/ daycare--rights of first refusal to watch children, and nutritional health requirements.

Follow Decree

There will be favor requests, schedule changes, and other last minute priorities will get in the way. Further, varying ideologies may be promoted for the children without warning.

If you sway too far from the decree you may find yourself in a bind. Misunderstandings grow and expectations rise—sticking to the decree is really best for everyone and will save unnecessary arguments and anxiety down the road.

Your Children Love Both of You

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your divorce, try and understand the children have an entirely different perspective. They are employing their own tools to cope with the new family status. It’s best to respect their relationships with others including your ex.

Healthier solutions exist when you are overwhelmed with the lack of understanding or care in the other home. Don’t put the kids in the middle and don’t vent your feelings. More importantly, do not confide in your children—they just want to be kids.

Trust Your Gifts

Keep it simple. Make it positive. Do your thing the way you are comfortable. Think about the kids always. Finding your way and creating a niche for you and your kids is vital to the emotional health of your children.

Ignore activity in the other home. I learned if I allowed things I disagreed with to get to me, they would only upset me. And there were plenty. Neglect is one issue and bad parenting is another--learn to understand the difference.

You won’t be able to change habits in the other home, but you can inspire with your own choices in your home. Don’t react, but rather respond. No matter what you hear from the other household through small lips, defuse and deflect immature tactics with your warm persona, hugs, kisses, and smiles.

My mantra was always--No matter what others say or do, it doesn’t change the fact I’m a wonderful, caring, loving, and dedicated father. Always maintain your relationships with integrity and dignity. Model exceptional behavior in front of your kids no matter how upsetting the situation.

The first two to three years will be challenging as you both adjust to your new roles and responsibilities. It’s best to work toward a good balance with your ex utilizing the four acute pieces of advice above and mitigating the more contentious issues which may arise. Pride yourself with good, respectful communication. Always taking the high road will be win-win for everyone involved--if not seen initially, your consistency will prove worthy in the long run.

Next Up! Moving Forward After Dvorce!

Bruce Buccio resides in Colorado, USA,  is a Rebuilding Coach and Expert and soon to be published Author. Today, he writes primarily inspired by experiences raising his children, but also writes about inspiration, growth, and love.

-photo credit:  Passive Income Dream.com/ Flickr

© 2012 Bruce Buccio

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