If you've recently gone through a divorce and have children you may wonder, can divorced parents be good friends? The answer is yes, but it's certainly not easy and it does take some effort from both sides to make it work.
Can Divorced Parents be Good Friends: Making it Work for the Children
You divorced your spouse and now you want to know, how can divorced parents be good friends? You left your spouse for a reason, probably because you couldn't stand to be with him/her any longer. Now, you don't know how you will ever be able to be friends with your spouse so you can continue to parent your children. The following are some helpful suggestions to make parenting after divorce much easier for the both of you:
- Take it slow
Don't push the issue of becoming good friends. Establishing a friendship after a romantic relationship takes time.
- Let the past be the past
Don't bring up past issues because they are sure to evoke emotions that will prevent you from becoming friends.
- Avoid pushing buttons
You know what makes your spouse upset so try your best not to bring up any subjects that will begin an argument. If this means you can only speak superficially about things, so be it.
- Keep conversations short
Chances are, if you talk for a long time, you are bound to talk about something that will upset one another. Keep conversations focused so you don't wander into argument territory.
Decisions about the upbringing of your children will come up and the only way to joint parent your children is to learn how to compromise. You may not like what your spouse thinks is best for your children, but you will have to learn to pick your battles and let some things slide. Remember, if it doesn't endanger your children, you may need to hold back sometimes.
- Be clear about plans
Whenever the children have plans to go somewhere, make sure all details are clear and understood.
- Listen to your ex
Your ex may have some issues with the children and need to vent to someone who understands. Be compassionate and supportive because you never know when you will need the same.
- Don't try to be a single parent
Enlist your ex's help, you may be surprised by his/her response of being more than happy to help.
- Include your ex-spouse
If your ex wants to be a part of your children's life, don't push him/her away. Being open and inviting will make you, your spouse and your children feel more comfortable and happier with the new situation.
- Don't bring up new relationships
If you start dating someone, don't tell your ex. It's not appropriate and no matter if your spouse is over you, it may still spark some emotions.
- Plan meetings with and without the children
Let the children see that their parents are still able to be around each other and be happy. Better yet, get together without the children so you can reconnect on a different level.
- Keep feelings in control
Be aware of romantic feelings that may reignite because of the civil and amicable interactions you have. If you are committed to being friends, make sure you keep it that way, which means no sexual relations.
Letting Go of Guilt
Guilt can prevent you from being good friends with your ex-spouse. To let go of guilt, keep in mind that your number one priority is your children, which means you will do anything to give them a stable home life even if you did divorce their mom/dad. Don't feel guilty about the separation. Most of the time, it is worse for children to witness arguments between their parents. When parents don't take steps to stop the arguing such as in divorce, children learn that arguing in marriage is normal and should be tolerated no matter what. Once they become adults and enter into their own relationships, they will feel comfortable if arguments are not the norm and may even start disagreements to regain status quo. Think of your divorce as something good you have showed your children and explain to them (if they are of age) why you've decided that this arrangement is best. It won't teach them that divorce is the answer, it teaches them that marriage isn't supposed to be the chaos that they witnessed.
Have Faith and it Will Happen
If you and your ex are not quite at the point of being good friends yet, don't be discouraged. It takes time to heal from a divorce and some people take longer than others do. Just have faith that once you and your ex are ready to move on to friendship, you will know and it may be easier than you think.