Friendly exes - I must be kidding, right? I know, you are going to try to share with my your story, hoping to make me see how hard it is to stop yourself from screaming when you are within 300 feet of your ex. And the thought of being friendly towards your ex is likely raising your heart rate and making your hands clammy. I get it, no, I REALLY get it. I never said it would be easy...
Chew on this for a moment... You chose to have kids together. Yes, even if they were not part of your master plan - you actively chose to have kids, and should both contribute to raising them to be healthy, happy adults. Nobody gets married with a plan of getting divorced. There's a reason wedding vows often include "till death do us part."
Yeah, it probably feels like moving a mountain to have a civil conversation with your ex about parenting stuff - visitations, school events, pickup and drop off schedules, bedtimes, consequences, the list goes on and on. Parent mediators and divorce attorneys often recommend viewing co-parenting as a business partnership, though we often don't do business with people that have seen us naked, right!
6 REASONS TO BE A FRIENDLY CO-PARENT
Find yourself a really great therapist if you feel like you want to hurl each time you are near your ex. Allow yourself to vent to your person, to get it all out - the anger, sadness, betrayal, loss of life you hoped to have. Let yourself start the process of forgiveness...
Here are 6 Reasons to Be a Friendly Co-Parent:
1. Friendly people care about others. Friendly teams show compassion and empathy for each other. They care if each other has a bad day, lift each other up with jokes and humor, and find mutually beneficial solutions to problems.
2. 50/50 Rule. Kids are smart, they understand percentages. They know they are the equivalent of 50% of each parent. By dismissing or being cold to the other parent, your kids believe you feel that way about them.
3. Empathy and stress centers in the brain are the same. Kids that learn empathy also learn ways to self-soothe and manage stress. Kids learn by example how to handle emotions and solve problems.
4. Mean people stress us out. Stress releases the stress chemical cortisol and catycholamine, a chemical that causes inflammation. Untreated chronic stress and trauma causes changes in our DNA and executive functioning abilities, including memory, logic, problem solving, attention, focus and completion of cognitive tasks.
5. Empathy helps prevent bullying behavior. Teaching your kids to have empathy and stick up for others helps prevent bullying and violence.
6. Friends give each other limits. Our friends know they can't call us late at night, unless there is an emergency, change plans at the last minute or not show up. They are also people we can count on and we like to do things for them.
Take a moment and close your eyes, Imagine your children are now older teens, exploring relationships of their own. What messages have you given your children about how men and women should be treated in relationships.
1. Did you treat your ex with dignity and respect?
2. Did you bad mouth your ex to your kids?
3. Did you complain that your ex never pays for anything or ask your kids to be the "go between?"
4. Did you consider your child's feelings before introducing them to a "new person" in your life?
Remember, your connection to your child's other parent does not end when they turn 18. It lasts a lifetime as there will be graduations, weddings, children and grandchildren. Consider what kind of a role model you want to be even if it is really, really hard.
For more information or to inquire about services, please call Sara at 913-244-8786 or send an email to email@example.com.
Until next time,
Sara Minges, LPC, Divorce Therapist