CO-PARENTING WHEN YOU ARE MAD WITH YOUR EX!
DAVID H. EBAUGH, MA, LCPC, CCDC, CEAP
Typically, men control the money, and women use the children as their currency in the custody fight. All the hurts and wounds from the marital discord are real, but how we deal with them may negatively affect the lives of our children for years to come.
Marital conflicts that are unresolved fester, especially when adults are not behaving as adults. When the child is put in the middle of the marital fight we call that process triangulation. The goal of triangulation is to diffuse or reduce the conflict, not resolve it. So if you say, I am angry about how I was rejected, so I choose to punish the other by withholding the children from equal parenting time, or the money for child support, then I prolong the acceptance of the ended relationship. I do not heal or forgive. I just stay mad and in resentment mode.
When children are put in the middle, they feel torn between both parents who they love. They feel like each parent has an arm, pulling in the opposite direction. Often children compensate by expressing strong emotions, behavioral problems or psychosomatic symptoms when they are put in the middle of the ongoing adult conflict. Our kids take on the emotions inherent in our fight, when actually all they really want is to love each parent and be loved by each parent, and know that they were not the cause of the marital breakup.
There is hope. Actually, after the settlement agreement is signed, many divorcing couples settle into cooperative co-parenting focused on the needs of their children. You do need to make a conscious effort to avoid being judgmental of the other’s parenting efforts and avoid fighting. Keep in mind, your shared goal is to raise well-adjusted kids who grow up without unnecessary baggage.
Be open and available to communicate with your ex-partner regarding the events and issues in your children’s lives. Yes, co-parenting requires the two of you to decide, together, on rewards and punishments for your children, and to spell one another with an attitude of cooperation.
Be respectful and reasonable in your transactions with your ex-partner. Your children will be observing with their eyes and ears. Your goal should be to set the best possible example for interpersonal relationships. Both of you are the people your children look up to, even after the family breaks up. The way you treat others will be the example your children have to follow regardless of the details of, or the changes made to the custody arrangement.
If you are in need of professional help with a parenting plan, co-parenting before or after divorce, or are having a hard time letting go, please feel free to contact David H. Ebaugh MA, LCPC, CCDC, CEAP who is in private practice at NEW PERSPECTIVES, A Counseling and Consulting Group with offices in Owings Mills and Westminster, Maryland.
Mr. Ebaugh has several specialties: Divorce Mediation (Court Appointed Mediator for the Circuit Court of Carroll County), Parenting Plans, Substance Abuse Treatment, Marriage Counseling and Parent Coordination for high conflict families. Call today for an appointment – 410/356-3344, Ext. 101