A Different Kind of Trust
Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, trusting your ex may seem like impossibility. After all, how could you ever trust a person who may have lied, stolen, cheated, and/or destroyed your marriage and life as you knew it. I ask again, how could you ever trust such a person? Your answer, like it or not, may have come in the form of a court-ordered custody arrangement.
If you and your ex are sharing physical custody of your children, and if your children will be staying with your ex without your supervision, you don’t have any choice but to trust your ex. Your children, with or without your agreeing to it, will be in your ex’s care. You will either risk arrest and losing your children entirely (by keeping them from your ex) or you’re going to comply with what the courts have ordered, and trust your ex.
Going into this, despite an overwhelming disdain for my ex, I made the conscious choice to do right by my children. Logically, it looks like this:
Our children love me and my ex. I love our children. Hurting my ex will indirectly hurt our children.
This is not a difficult lesson to learn; if you think it is, you need to find it in you, for your kid’s sake, to move on. This is common-sense stuff. Don’t say or do anything to your ex that you wouldn’t say or do to your ex in the presence of your hypersensitive pre-teen daughter who loves and cares for you both deeply.
You may be insisting that you have the worst of circumstances. That what your ex did was unforgivable. That there is no way to co-parenting is possible. Barring few extreme circumstances, if you are saying or thinking these things, you are undoubtedly a part of the problem.
You (and your ex) need to do whatever you can to make peace for your kid’s sake. I’ve never believed in the saying that you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I emphatically believe that every one of us has the ability to make changes in our emotions, beliefs, and lives. With the willingness and effort, you can do what you have to do to get there. If you need a shrink, priest, rabbi, pharmacist, or mechanic to so, then so be it. Do what it takes to achieve the level of peace with your situation that is necessary to effectively co-parent with your ex. If your children mean that much to you, you would do it. If you aren’t willing, I would question how much you really love your children. A parent who really loves their children can make tough choices, changes, putting aside their feelings, because they know it is the right thing for their children.
The more discord between you and your ex, the more disconnected your children will feel.
The more you can do create an environment that is familiar and gives your child a sense of connectedness to family, the better. One way to do this is to have special routines and/or activities that are shared between parental homes.
Additionally, each parent may have traditions, routines, or activities that are specific to their household; respect and honor those traditions, but if they are unique or special to your ex’s household, do not try to copy or emulate them. For example, if there is a special dialogue routine shared between your ex and your children at bedtime, let that be their special thing, find another routine way to connect with your children that is unique to your household.
Don’t try to brush-over or deny how difficult the situation is on your children. Always keep in mind that your children love you and your demonic ex equally and would prefer to be with both of you, under the same roof, every day. Acknowledge their feelings. Let them know that you understand how difficult it must be for them to be separated from one of their parents.