Your divorce has long since been finalized, and you have moved on and begun a new life through remarriage. Whether you like it or not, your ex will still be in your life when you have children together. You must maintain contact, mainly because it is in the children’s best interest. In order to create a functional blended family, you will have to practice co-parenting with your ex-spouse. This will require added effort and time, but is necessary for the emotional well-being of your children, and your step family in general.
Maintain your sanity
The emotions of your ex may get to you, but don’t take it personally. At times, an ex-spouse will display feelings that are highly inappropriate. For example; you might not be able to attend your daughter’s dance recital, resulting in a 5-minute tirade being left on your answering system. Just take a step back and understand that he or she is just showing disappointment in how you might be making your daughter feel by not coming. The feelings behind the message are acceptable, but the added anger is not. Just let it roll off your back and don’t bother responding.
Focus on the kids
Your communication should concern the children, and that’s it. There is no longer a need to talk about daily events, or anything to do with your own new blended family or stepfamily as a whole, or even other step kids. The only remaining relationship you have with your ex is that of your children, and that is all you need to discuss.
Complete a calendar that focuses on visitation in advance. Follow the specifications set forth by your divorce agreement and make arrangements for special event sand occasions well in advance. Children like to know what is happening, and when. A great idea is present each child with their own personal visitation calendar that they can carry around with them.
Keep in mind that by arranging time for the kids to spend with each parent is doing what is in their best interest. There is never an excuse to cheat the other parent out of scheduled time, nor is there ever a valid reason to cancel any of your allotted time.
Holidays should be alternated each year. Let your kids know that celebrating their birthday a day late or Christmas on the following weekend doesn’t detract from how special the event is. You can make it seem fun to celebrate occasions on different days. What kid doesn’t want more than one birthday or Christmas?
Occasionally, special events can come up at a moments notice. If your ex needs to switch up the visitation schedule temporarily, try to be flexible. If you start to notice that this is happening frequently, then you may need to put your foot down and require at least a few weeks notice on visitation changes. However, always leave room to accommodate for emergencies.
ConclusionAlways do what you know is best for your children. Always maintain an open line of communication with your children. Encourage them to let you know of any upcoming events so that you will not only remain an active participant in their lives, but you will be able to make any necessary plans for events.
The Blended and Step Family Resource Center aims to help blended and stepfamilies through its counselling and coaching services as well as other resources available. To get the help that you need, get in touch with our licensed professional counselors and we will help you find solutions and hope.