For any of the reasons that your relationship may have ended, the children still need you both, equally. Unlike your breakups prior to children, no longer is it possible to only think about yourself and your own emotions after a breakup. You are now responsible for dealing with your own emotions regarding the ending of your relationship all while keeping those feelings totally and completely separate from your emotions regarding co-parenting.
Most good parents understand that children’s relationship with both parents is the most important asset to preserve post separation. However, many of those same good parents really don’t know where to start or how to accomplish this preservation. I often see well-meaning parents making detrimental mistakes in co-parenting; placing pressure on the children that is not their burden to carry. On the positive side, most children are resilient and can recover fairly quickly when their parents start co-parenting in the best interest of their children.
Let’s review some of the common “good parent" mistakes in co-parenting and possible solutions:
The Go-Between Children:
Never should your child, of any age, be responsible for relaying messages between you and your ex. It’s not your children’s responsibility to be a messenger; not about their parents' emotions, doctor’s appointments, grades, extracurricular activities or anything in between.
Possible Solution: Create a shared Google Calendar that each parent documents upcoming activities and appointments.
Thinking the Courts Care About Your Children’s Well-being:
I’m not implying that Family Court doesn’t have it’s place when parents are unable to agree after REALLY trying to work matters out. I am explicitly stating that the courts will never know your children or their needs even close to the same way their parents do. The court will often rule on a standard order for you and your ex to follow to the letter- The SAME order the court likely ordered for the last parents that couldn’t come to an agreement. Court orders often leave NO room for flexibility. What if you want your children for a special vacation? Sorry! If it’s not in the court order, your children are the ones missing out on something special. If you just think, I bet you can…