by Brette Sember
The New Year is a time of fresh starts and new beginnings in many ways. This year, in addition to perhaps starting a diet or beginning to work out, devote some energy to developing a healthier interaction with your ex.
Because you and your ex don't see eye to eye, it's probably not unusual to have disagreements when you see each other. Unfortunately, you tend to see each other when your child is around. Seeing parents argue has a negative effect on children. Instead of understanding that the argument is about something adult, children tend to assume it is somehow their fault.
There are many children who don't have two parents. And there are many children who have a non-custodial parent who never spends time with them. Although working out schedules and plans with your ex might not be your idea of a good time, it's so important for your child.
You might think your ex is a loser, but he or she is your child's parent and your child loves him or her. If your child grows up and sees the negatives in your ex, so be it, but as a child it is important that he or she is allowed to love the other parent. You don't have to wax poetic about the other parent's good qualities, but you shouldn't always point out the negatives. Encourage your child to have a healthy relationship with the other parent.
A child who grows up with two happy parents who live in separate homes is far better off than a child who grows up with two miserable, argumentative, resentful parents under one roof. Stop feeling guilty about the divorce and focus on the positives of your situation.
A parent who is personally fulfilled makes a wonderful parent. You are allowed to have time to yourself, pursue your own interests, and do things just for yourself. Sometimes, as a single parent, you start to feel guilty if you devote time or energy to yourself. The things you do for yourself help make you a more rounded parent, and ensure a happy child.
If you were assigned a work project in which you had to interact with another co-worker, you would most likely make some effort to be accommodating, flexible and understanding towards the other person. You and the other parent have perhaps the most important project to do together -- raise your child.
Parenting is not an exact science, and neither is scheduling. If you are accommodating about scheduling changes, the other parent has a reason to be when you need some accommodation as well. If you are laid back about some parenting choices, it is likely your ex will be willing to cut you some slack as well. You must learn to cooperate and work together as parents of the same child, no matter what your differences.
Brette McWhorter Sember is a retired family attorney and mediator and nationally known expert about divorce and parenting after divorce. She is the author of:
Copyright © Brette McWhorter Sember. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org.