Shelter your kids from your conflict so they can thrive; the sky should be their only limit!
A few years ago, two parents were going through a divorce which had been going on for over five years. Unfortunately, they could not come to an agreement and were not willing to compromise. Their children had endured it all and were now adults. During the trial, the son was asked to testify. He told the judge something that shocked his parents. He told them that he was getting married that upcoming weekend, and that his parents were not welcome to attend. He wanted to have this one day in his life to be about him, not about his parents’ ongoing conflict. In that moment, the parents realized how the years of fighting and divorce impacted their childrens’ lives.
This story, both true and heartbreaking, reflects the hard truth of children who are the product of a divorce. The children don’t have to be the casualties of a war. The divorce process often focusses on the parents’ perspective: how you will split your assets and who gets more time with the kids. However, in order to maintain a good relationship with your child(ren), you must put your children first. They are the priority. You must be willing to ask yourself: “How would this situation make the children feel?”. This is what makes for good co-parenting.
Co-parenting means that both parents continue to participate in their child(ren)’s lives. It is hard to work with someone you were once very close with, but it is necessary for the best interest of the children. It is best to work together to find a solution that will make your child(ren) the happiest, speak to each other with respect, take the time to cool off when necessary, and avoid seeing it as an argument that you want to win. As parents you must understand the importance of working together for the greater benefit of your child(ren). In reality, no one wins, everyone loses; especially the kids.
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This is precisely what was explained in the son’s testimony. His parents made every encounter about themselves to the point where he did not even want them to attend his wedding; a day that is meant to celebrate the unity of families. Although the parents were upset to hear about their son’s marriage in that way, those emotions cannot compare to how the child has felt since the beginning of his parents’ divorce.
Co-parenting is tough. It is a challenge to make decisions with someone you may have hoped you would never speak to again. But as a parent, think of important life events, such as job promotions, weddings or the birth of your first grandchild, it is imperative to have a good relationship with your child(ren) and with their other parent to allow these special moments and milestones to be enjoyed and shared by everyone. You must be willing to respect and work with your child’s other parent(s) so as to make the children want to have you present in their lives, instead of causing them unneeded stress.