Those of you out there who have children will agree with me that raising your child has to be one of the most rewarding, yet difficult things you’ll ever do. We all know how stressful bringing up children can be when you are married, but it is just as difficult, and at times even more so, when you and your spouse get divorced.
Having been divorced for over five years now and raising an eleven-year-old child, I have developed my own tricks of the trade for raising children with your ex-spouse. These tricks do not always involve drinking a box of wine, eating an entire bag of peanut butter cups and counting to 10 very slowly (okay, sometimes 100!) It is not always perfect but there are ways in which to make it easier for both you and your ex and more importantly, for your children.
Here is my own David Letterman “Top Ten List” for raising children with an ex spouse. Well, it is actually a “Top Five List,” but who’s counting?
Tip Number 1 – Put yourself in your child’s place ALL THE TIME – The most important thing that you need to remember is the well-being of your child. He/she did not choose the decision you made to get divorced, so he/she should never suffer the aftershocks of it as either. Before you say or do something that involves your ex, think about it from your child’s point of view and put yourself in his/her place. Always remember that there are consequences for your actions.
Tip Number 2 – No Monkey in the Middle! – Your child should never be in the middle of any argument between you and your ex. It is very important to NEVER use your child as a pawn to make the other one upset. You must put your differences aside (and trust me, you will have them) and ALWAYS put your child first!
Tip Number 3 – Leave the boxing gloves at home! – If you run into issues where you and your ex do not see eye-to-eye, then find a convenient time when your child is not around to talk about them. Try to find a time when your child is in school, asleep, or even while he/she is outside playing. You can take those opportunities to work out your differences, and try to come to an agreement without the chance of your child overhearing.
Tip Number 4 – If you cannot say anything nice then do not say anything at all – This is one that I feel is very important. You should never talk ill of your ex-spouse in front of your children. It does not matter how upset they make you or how furious you are with them, you always need to take the high road. Your son/daughter needs to develop his or her own relationship with each of you, and berating each other only hurts you, and ultimately, your child.
Tip Number 5 – Try to put yourself in your ex’s shoes – This tip has definitely helped me in times of turmoil. It is common for both married and divorced couples to disagree on different areas of raising the children. Heck, plenty of couples argue about everything from what kind of shoes to buy the kids to which colleges they should apply. But, it’s important–whether married or divorced– to presented a united front. You are always going to have differences of opinion, the key is to consider your ex’s point of view. If you can have a healthy relationship with your ex, in the end, it will benefit everyone.
Again, your child didn’t choose your spouse and the split certainly wasn’t your child’s fault, so they should never have to suffer for those decisions. Once you have that mindset in place, chances are it will make things much easier for everyone…and your child will thank you down the road. Mine has…
Do you come from a broken home, or are you a divorced mom? I’d love to hear how you handled the turmoil with your kids or how your own upbringing affected your adult relationships. Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts!