I woke up groggy. My head was slightly achy and the balls of my feet throbbed from wearing high heels for over 10 hours yesterday. I touched my hair, feeling a knot that set in from too much hairspray, and my eyes felt heavy from eye make-up that was not completely removed last night. Then, I smiled. Last night was unforgettable. I couldn’t wait to see the photos trickling in from guests.
It was not the morning after my wedding. Not even close. Rather, it was the morning after my son’s bar mitzvah. I am not Jewish but his dad, my ex-husband, is. My current husband raised my 3 step-kids with no religion and my ex-husband’s wife grew up in a mixed-religion household. Are you keeping up? At the service yesterday, my son had 8 grandparents and 32 relatives there. We took up the entire first 2 rows, spilling into the 3rd row too. It didn’t matter that we were redefined, reconfigured, and redesigned.
Family is Family
The morning after, my ex-husband and I texted in the morning to confirm it was an incredible night. Everyone had fun and we gloated about how proud we were of our son. He said he thought we did a good job raising him and I agreed. Things with my ex-husband were not always perfect but one thing remained constant; we loved our son more than we ever disliked or even resented each other.
I’m a divorce lawyer so every day, I witness what happens to children whose parents can’t look past their own issues. The fallout is behavioral problems, increased use of alcohol or drugs, sexual promiscuity, anxiety, and depression. It is not always easy to co-parent and it certainly takes two parents to do it the right way.
Consider the following tips when co-parenting with your child’s other parent:
- Communication is everything, and it includes the small stuff such as sharing photos of your child with your ex or letting them know when your child stays home from school sick. To encourage consistency, discuss items like house rules, consider sharing schedules for appointments and activities, and coordinate gifts you are buying for birthdays and holidays. Your child should never be the one to pass along information from one parent to another. Creating a habit of communication will become easier with time and your child will not be able to manipulate either parent for their benefit--you will appreciate when they are a teenager.
- Bite your tongue and resist the urge to disparage the other parent in front of your child. While you may feel momentarily vindicated, it is hurtful for your child to hear spiteful words about the other most important person in their life. Instead, speaking positively encourages your child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents.
- Treat your ex like a business partner with whom you have embarked on the most important business venture possible. You do not need to schedule Sunday family dinners together, but if you treat your interactions as you would a professional business communication, then you can co-parent respectfully and with civility. When emotions control your interactions, take a step back before you hit send on that text. You would not yell at your boss and send them an emoji of the middle finger. Exercise the same formality with your ex.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Remember, your goal is to raise a well-adjusted child who can have healthy relationships, so whether or not they returned with the same sweatshirt they left with or whether your ex was 10 minutes late for a drop-off, it does not fit into the end game. Your child should not be anxiously anticipating your next overreaction, as divorce does not impact children as much as the divisiveness and tension between parents. If you can sit together at a soccer game without conflict, you will one day be able to amicably attend your child’s future wedding--an invaluable gift.
Seeking Personalized, Effective Solutions? Contact Our Compassionate Family Lawyers Today
To say co-parenting is hard work is an understatement, especially considering your relationship broke down for a reason. However, we at Happy Ever Afterstaunchly believe your child is worth the effort and more. This is why our family lawyers refuse to back down from the challenge of resolving your family legal matter as seamlessly as possible.
Attorney Renée C. Bauer is our firm’s principal attorney and founder and she is also a highly-esteemed author and peacemaker. She authored “Percy’s Imperfectly Perfect Family”, a children’s book about divorce, and “Divorce in Connecticut”, both of which can be found on Amazon.
For comprehensive guidance and counsel in your family law issue, whether it concerns divorce or child matters, contact us. We are ready and willing to offer you the services you need. Call (203) 288-7800.