Dealing with the ex, chose dignified or ugly
Guest Author, Anne Kass, - a retired District Judge of Albuquerque, New Mexico
The fondest hope of many divorced parents is that their former spouse will disappear. They want never to have to deal or interact with the "ex" again. That's an understandable goal, but it's impossible to do.
Two people who have created a child together are connected to one another forever and ever. Their divorce will "change" their relationship, not "end" it. These parents need to decide if their on-going connection will be a respectful and dignified one, or if it will it be ugly.
They need also to know that whichever connection they choose--dignified or ugly--will have an enormous effect on their children.
If they choose ugly, their children will experience a great deal of stress. The children will likely invest significant time and energy to try to prevent and to try to repair their parents' quarrels. That means the children will have less time and energy to devote to learning all the things they need to learn to grow up to be self-sufficient, responsible adults. Also if the parents choose to interact in disrespectful ways, they will teach their children to treat others including themselves, with disrespect. Children learn from what they see their parents do.
If divorced parents really want to meet their children's best interests, they need to develop new ways to deal with one another to make the many decisions that will need to be made. One way to do this is for the parents to meet regularly and frequently. The meetings should be at a neutral place. The meetings should be held even if there are no problems to resolve. In fact, it is especially important for divorced parents to meet when there are no problems so they can experience interacting with one another under relatively pleasant circumstances. If they only meet when there is trouble, they will grow to hate the meetings, and they will have repeated evidence that their former spouse is still troublesome and disagreeable, which is why they divorced in the first place.
If divorced parents choose to interact with one another in a respectful and dignified way their children will learn an altogether different lesson than they learn if the parents choose the ugly approach. The children will not need to divert time and energy from school and the other tasks of growing-up. The children will learn to treat others with courtesy, and the children will learn valuable conflict resolution skills.
It is understandable why a divorced parent wishes the other would go to the moon, just as it is understandable for us to wish there were a Santa Claus. Still, part of growing up is learning to accept reality
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