James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
The answer is as simple as it hard.
What is in the best interest of the children?
Remember, it is not about you or your ex! It’s not about who lied, was uncivil, disrespectful or unfaithful. It’s about making this difficult time in your children’s life as easy as possibly under extremely difficult circumstances.
It goes without saying, physical abuse, alcohol, drug abuse, neglect, endangerment or what ever the reportable event will require legal authorization for supervision, limits and boundaries. Despite the obvious, each parent must ask themselves:
Am I doing all I can do?
Act accordingly, despite the feelings involved. The following provide a point for self-reflection. What is in the best interest of the children?
1. Try to parent as a team. Co-parenting can be difficult at best after a divorce. However, I have seen many couples who still attend family functions together and make a point of going out to dinner as a family on occasion. It goes without saying that they will swap visitation dates when their schedules dictate. This is more common then you might think. Regardless of the state of your relationship, try to be more cooperative. Try to made a little easier for the children. It can be done if you really are interested in doing what is best for the children.
2. Communicate with civility and respect. Remember the walls have ears. No badmouthing your ex. No matter how angry you are; you still need to do what is in the best interest of the children.
There are several apps that help couples collaborate on their schedules and calendars. These apps give parents the ability to coordinate their schedules in order to stay on the same page. This can be very useful when there is still tension with your ex.
3. If your ex grounds a child, you should honor that decision and continue it even if it’s your weekend. I do recommend that there be parameters put on such consequences.
4. Don’t bring a new love interest around the children. Some people ask me for a time when it’s OK to bring someone around. I think it depends on the children and their age and how they are adjusting to the divorce. If I’m forced to give a time, I say one year. Parents really need to examine their own feelings and keep those emotions separate from what is in the best interest of the children.
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For those in the metropolitan Chicago area, I have offices in Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue, and near 22nd St and Wolf Road in Westchester. Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.
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Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.