"It is important to understand that even though they are putting themselves out there and asking questions about your life, you still control how much information you would like to share with your ex-spouse."
As a parent, you always try to do what is best for your kids, whether that is sending them to the best schools possible or making sure that they eat their vegetables. When it comes to amicable custody arrangements, it can be a challenge to keep things as civil and polite as possible, especially with all of the history and emotions that come along with it.
Much of the logistics will be covered in your parenting plan, a written arrangement allotting time with your children. This will help you during the weeks and months following the break up, where peace, politeness, and civility may not yet be established on some level.
During drop-offs and pick-ups, the level of civility can often find itself determined by how recently the divorce was finalized. If it was a while ago, it might make things easier. There might be light conversation involving recent events in your life or how work is going.
The fact that the topic would swing toward you is a testimony to how far things might have come or how much time may have passed since the divorce. It is important to understand that even though they are putting themselves out there and asking questions about your life, you still control how much information you would like to share with your ex-spouse. You still control how much time you wish to spend with your ex-spouse.
‘Not there yet’
If you are not there yet where you can open up to them, brief spurts of civility for the sake of the children that you share can help preserve your image in the eyes of your children. According to PsychCentral, the tone that you are striving for is business-like. If you know that civility is in the best interest of your children, then resorting to bitter or emotional tactics while having a difficult conversation with an ex-spouse is counterproductive to your top priority.
Navigating the ins and outs of interactions with an ex-spouse is not an exact science. The individual personalities, relationships, emotions, past histories, and relationships with the children involved make it impossible to make gross generalizations about what to do in a given set of circumstances.
The fact that you are not required to feel any semblance of a positive emotion toward an ex-spouse is complicated by the fact that because of your shared children, you will be forced to interact with them and coordinate on some level. It can force you to face your emotions regarding the end of your marriage head on, as well as what you feel toward an ex-spouse.
This is why many people look to start slowly by making the pick-up and drop-off sites public places. They wish to have these exchanges where neither person can make a scene or have an uninterrupted emotional outburst. They want to find ways to control the situation, in order to help their children’s transition go as smoothly and as less traumatic as possible.
This means establishing routines. This can challenging, due to previously established routines that children may have. Between practices, recitals, lessons, schools, clubs, camps, and any other possible activity, the weekly calendar of a child can be packed, creating problems and potentially, tension with an ex-spouse.
Once the routines have been established and time begins to pass, ex-spouses can start navigating a more amicable relationship as co-parents. They can begin looking for topics that they can safely discuss without the fear of inciting an incident.
Avoid their love life
One that you may wish to avoid is your co-parent’s love life. There may be a day when you are significantly older with grandchildren of your own where you can make a joke or two about the awkwardness of this topic, but if you are fairly recently divorced, and you make a comment or ask a question, emotions will run high. It may end up hurting the established civility, which may end up hurting your children. Neither parent wants that.
What both individuals want is the ability to move forward in their own lives. Part of that may include dating and starting new relationships, but it might just be something as simple as changing your voicemail or answering machine. It is different for each individual.
The important part of interacting with your ex-spouse is how your interactions impact your children. Your children need the both of you in their lives, and their lives will go a lot smoother if civility can beat out volatility. That means not using the past to define your child’s future and putting them first in your life.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.