Divorce is hard on everyone involved… but it can often be especially hard on the kids. In most divorce situations where the couple has kids, they will share joint custody after the split. This can be an especially difficult transition for the family… specifically because couples that divorce often do not get along.
When you share kids, communication becomes even more important after a divorce. When parents can communicate well concerning custody issues, everyone is better off. Here are some ways to make shared custody work for your family:
1. Keep your opinions to yourself. Every expert agrees in the old saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” So even though it may be tempting to badmouth your ex or blame him/her for circumstances, it’s much better to just say nothing at all. Talking bad about your ex to your kids or when they can hear you will only hurt your relationship with them in the long run.
2. Don’t micro manage. Try to set boundaries for different aspects of parenting like bedtimes, food habits, and discipline. If you and your ex can agree that, as a general rule, you’ll put the kids to bed by 8 pm on school nights, you’ll probably both stay within the boundaries most of the time. And when you find out your ex let the kids stay up later to watch your team in the World Series, well, take a deep breath and remember that only the big things are worth fighting for.
3. Include your kids in custody decisions when appropriate. As your kids get older, their extra curricular activities will begin to shape your schedule more and more. Especially when they are teenagers, shared custody situations will work out much better if you allow the kids some input on which days and times they will spend with each parent.
4. Find an effective way to communicate with your ex. One of the biggest reasons I created SupportPay was to improve communication with my ex. It’s a lot easier to keep emotions out of the conversation when the conversation happens in written format. It also lowers the risk of miscommunication and if there’s ever confusion about what we’ve agreed upon, we can refer back to our original conversation on the SupportPay site. And a bonus of using a service like SupportPay to handle communication with your ex is that you can keep these conversations private between you and your ex… and keep your kids out of the middle.