If you’ve already divorced or are in the process of doing so, you and your ex likely aren’t on the best of terms. You may feel a desire to yell at them whenever you see them or otherwise try to find a way to hold them accountable and let them know how you feel about the situation.
While working through your feelings can be healthy for you, it can make things very hard for your kids. Particularly if the only time you interact with your ex is during your routine custody exchanges, you may need to find a way to push down those negative feelings from the divorce and keep the focus on your children.
Try to only talk about the kids and their needs or behavior
If you start rehashing what happened during your marriage, you will inevitably start arguing and emotions will begin to spiral out of control for both of you. You don’t want to do that while your kids are sitting in the backseat of your car, waiting to go home after an afternoon with their other parent.
They shouldn’t overhear your arguments or witness your anger if you can help it. Ideally, they should see you cooperating, which not only helps the children feel secure in their relationships but also sets a positive example.
When you interact during a custody exchange, the only things you really need to discuss are what happened, what the kids ate, anything out of the ordinary that happened and the next time you will see each other to make an exchange. By keeping things focused completely on the kids, you can hopefully keep things pleasant or at least civil.
Evaluate your ex as a parent, not as a partner
After a divorce, you may not have anything positive left to say about your former spouse and the way that they behave during your marriage. Don’t let that negativity about their behavior or lack of commitment to you impact how you perceive them as a parent. Remember that your kids benefit from having your ex as a parent.
People who have affairs, people who aren’t fully committed to a marriage or even people who don’t respect their spouse can still be dedicated and loving parents. Try to base your current opinion about an attitude toward your ex on the way that they interact with and provide for your shared children. You may feel surprised at how easy it is to find the positive when the focus is on how they treat the kids, not how they treated you.