Even after the divorce, you and the other parent still have the duty of parenting your children. This should remain a priority for both of you.
Managing Hostility Between You and the Other Parent
Your children need you to be emotionally present for them. It is important for you to be sensitive to how your children feel and be ready to support them. When there is a lot of hostility and anger between you and the other parent, your mind would be largely occupied with the conflict, and this takes energy and time away from you to be available for your children.
Although there may be unresolved disputes and unpleasant memories between you and the other parent, it is best if you can put your differences aside and work together to care for your children. There are some tips below on how you can manage conflict for the benefit of your children:
- Whenever there are disagreements between you and the other parent, remember to keep the conflict away from your children.
- It may be useful to focus on common goals and hopes that both of you have for your children (e.g. child’s safety or well-being) to reduce the hostility between you and the other parent.
- You may wish to communicate with the other parent as you would with a colleague or a business partner. This way, you can keep your emotions under control and not escalate the conflict between the both of you.
- If you cannot communicate calmly face to face, use other means such as text messaging or emails instead.
- Keep messages focused on matters concerning your children and do not find fault or blame the other parent.
- When things get heated, take a step away from the discussion and agree with the other parent on when to resume the discussion (e.g. after a 20-minute break).
- During this time-out, calm yourself down instead of dwelling on the negative emotions.
- However, do not withdraw from a conflict without returning to resolve it later on. The goal here is for you and the other parent to discuss them in a calm manner instead of denying that they exist or “sweeping things under the carpet”.
- You may find more information and resources on seeking professional help here
- Conflicts may involve violence or abuse when they get heated. Always prioritise your safety and that of your children. If you feel unsafe at any point in your relationship, find some help here.
- You may wish to find out more about Children-in-Between (CiB), a programme designed to teach parents and children how to manage conflict in divorce and/or co-parenting, here.
Pause and Reflect
How has your communication with the other parent been like?
What are some common hopes/goals that you and the other parent have for your children?
Are your own thoughts and emotions about the divorce affecting your ability to care for your children?