Raising a child can be a stressful experience regardless of how you feel about your son or daughter’s other parent. Fortunately, there are actions that you can take to ensure that you have a civil, respectful and productive working relationship with a former spouse or partner. Here are a few tips to keep the relationship with your ex civil while you’re working out shared custody for your children.
Do Whatever Is in Your Child’s Best Interest
Generally speaking, it is in your child’s best interest to have both parents in his or her life. In some cases, this might mean sitting next to your former spouse during a youth football game or during a dance recital. It may also mean allowing your son or daughter to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with this person because he or she lives in close proximity to extended family members. Make sure that whatever you work out is fair and equal for both parties involved.
Communicate Through Texts or Emails
If you struggle to keep your composure while in close proximity to your ex, it may be best to communicate through electronic means. In addition to preserving your sanity, the contents of an email, text message, or social media exchange can be used as evidence during a child support or custody hearing. Communicate clearly and efficiently, clarifying dates, times, and expectations in every message or conversation you have about your child or children.
Don’t Talk About Your Personal Life
You are under no obligation to reveal details about a new relationship or anything else that is happening in your personal life. In fact, talking about a new relationship or other positive developments in your life could stoke feelings of jealousy or resentment in your former partner. Ideally, you will only discuss topics related to your children such as how they are doing in school or if there are any behavioral problems to watch out for.
Create a Uniform Set of Rules for Your Child to Follow
Ideally, your child will have similar rules to follow regardless of who he or she is spending time with. Generally speaking, children thrive when they know what is expected of them at all times. As a parent, it can be easier to handle behavioral and other issues by setting clear expectations and creating objective consequences for violating those rules. It’s worth noting that you will likely need to modify house rules and guidelines as your child gets older or as events warrant. As these rules and expectations morph and evolve over time, always involve the fellow parent or guardian in the decisions or updates regarding the rules.
Sharing custody of a child means learning how to work with someone who you may not have a great working relationship with. Ideally, you will find a way to put your differences with that individual aside for the sake of your child’s health and happiness. If necessary, a family law mediator may be able to help fix any issues that can’t be resolved through private talks alone.
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