Two Parents, Two Homes
Making the Exchange Smoothly
If you and your spouse or ex-spouse have a working relationship, the transition from one home to the other is easier on both the parents and the children. Children sense their parents' tacit approval and take with them the good wishes of the parent they are leaving. Even though the sudden change is stressful, knowing that the parent being left supports the departure and will be fine during their absence gives the children the foundation they need to cope.
Seeing Your Ex as Your Child's Parent
Keep your feelings about your ex-spouse to yourself. To lessen the uncomfortable feelings you might have when you face your ex-spouse during the exchange, see him or her through your child's eyes, as your child's parent. This technique will help keep your attitude positive during the exchange, which in turn will allow your children to feel okay about leaving you. And you really want your children to feel okay about leaving you. (Don't worry; they'll come back!)
Shielding Your Children from Conflict
If you think you're delivering your children to the enemy, they will sense your tension.
Follow these guidelines for reducing parental conflict:
If tension is very high, as it might be at the beginning of the separation, it is better to have a third party make the exchange or have one parent drop off the children at school or an after-school activity and the other parent pick them up.
- Communicate only when necessary.
- Keep a mental image of your spouse as your children's parent.
- Think of your parenting relationship as a business relationship.
- Don't get hooked into old patterns of fighting or being goaded into a nasty retort.
- Use clear and simple language without taking a judgmental or accusatory stance.
- Keep conversations as brief as possible.
- End any communication that looks as if it might escalate into a shouting match.
- When face-to-face with your ex-spouse during your children's transition from one home to the other, bury your feelings and exchange polite greetings. Keep it short.
- Don't discuss arrangements or other business with your ex-spouse during transitions.
- Turn the other cheek to any sarcastic or accusatory comments. Excuse yourself as quickly and politely as possible.
- Don't exchange checks and money in front of your children.
- Don't use children as messengers or delivery people.
- Have a positive attitude.
- Give a hug and a kiss goodbye to your children; wish them a good time.
- Smile. A happy parent makes for secure children.
More on: Dealing With Divorce
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Surviving Divorce © 2002 by BookEnds, LLC. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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