My split from the father of my children did not start off as a peaceful separation. Over the years, as we worked through many challenges, we came up with simple rules to abide by. The rules are meant to help us both be better co-parents, lessen the trauma of our split on our two kids, and maintain peace for our children’s sake.
We do not talk negatively about the other parent to the children when we are upset.
This puts the children in a very uncomfortable situation. It seems obvious enough but sometimes we get wrapped up in strong emotions and can end up unleashing negative words. Manipulating their perception of the other parent won’t help you become the favorite parent.
We do not talk negatively about the other parent with friends and family in front of the children.
Children are so smart and compartmentalize everything. They have superhero ears and know exactly what’s going on even when you think they aren’t listening. Please be aware that whispering doesn’t mean they can’t hear you.
We will refrain from arguing publicly in front of the children.
We couldn’t avoid these unhealthy arguments when we were together and under the same roof. However, after separation, you have the ability to walk away. You have the ability to not respond. You have the choice to not engage in public arguments. We both agreed to keep parenting disagreements to phone text, email or when children are not present.
We will not use our children as weapons to hurt each other.
Often times, when we get into a dispute where we aren’t happy with the actions of the other parent, one parent tends to make a statement that might go something like this, “You will see my kids when I say so!” Preventing a child from having time with the other parent because you aren’t getting your way is an example of using a child as a weapon to hurt the other parent. Also, it hurts the child more than it hurts the other parent. Your punishment on the other parent is indirectly punishing your child. It’s important to protect our children against harm, but we should not use them as the weapon to harm.
We will provide help when we can if the situation affects our children.
An example of this: I’m running late from a work meeting and cannot pick up children on time when school lets out. I know I can call on their father to pick them up and hang with them until I get there. I know I won’t have to deal with statements like “It’s your week with them; figure it out. It’s not my problem.” We both agree that if we can fulfill the request regarding our children, we provide the help. This united front after separation teaches our children that although we are no longer together, their parents can still maintain a dependable friendship to ensure one of us is always there for both of them. They know that no matter what happened between their parents, we will continue to work together to ensure they are always safe, happy, and cared for.
We still have moments where some of these rules get broken. We aren’t perfect, but we work hard at upholding them. Having them in place keeps us both in check. We know our children have unconditional love for the both of us. We both have to remind ourselves daily that their happiness trumps any of our disagreements. Children get wiser every year and, eventually, they’ll come to their own conclusion of their parents. Let’s allow them to have their own opinions of each parent, free from our own biases.