I’m often asked for co-parenting advice from moms who are newly divorced because to the outside world, my kids seem extremely well adjusted. They are happy, emotionally secure and well…normal. They love their dad and I equally and love their step-dad and step-sister as if they’ve known them their whole lives.
Some say I’m lucky that they turned out so seemingly unscathed from the trauma that divorce causes. I cringe at that assumption. I’m not LUCKY! I worked hard to make sure that the kids always felt loved, attended to their emotional needs before mine and eased them into their new lives with parents in two different homes as gently as I could.
But the most important thing I did? I spoke about their father with respect and integrity. I encouraged a deep relationship with him. It wasn’t easy. Sometimes it was downright difficult. For me, everything changed early on when I had an argument with my ex and snapped at the kids with a hurtful comment about him. The hurt in their eyes was palpable and I vowed to never put them in a situation like that again. From that moment on, I always tried to remember that I had married their dad, loved their dad enough to have children with him and had planned a life with him. He deserved my respect and he deserved for his children to understand how very much he loved them. Did I have to fight the urge to say negative things about him when we would argue about finances or when he disappointed the kids in some way? Absolutely. But I am so glad that I did.
Loving your child means loving them enough to put their needs first. Children need each parent equally in different ways and if you have a willing co-parent who loves your children and wants to be a major part of their lives, there is no reason to disparage or turn your children against them. I continue to co-parent in a loving way with the kids’ dad. We talk through all decisions, big or small, and support our children equally. We each love them on our own terms and love each other for the roles we play in their lives. Actually, I am lucky. Lucky to have a co-parent who loves the kids enough to not disparage their mom and wants to be involved in their raising.
Here are some ideas for co-parenting lovingly: