9.7Susan M. Hais

Tensions can be high at the end of a relationship, especially if one side didn’t want the relationship to end. When you have children together you can’t just move on with your life. The other parent of your child will always be in your life, so it’s important to maintain a level of respect and professionalism.

Never (or very rarely) have your child carry messages to the other parent for you. It puts them in an awkward position. Kids internalize everything. They are already blaming themselves, don’t add the burden of messenger to that. If you can’t speak directly to your ex, for the time being, find someone else or some other way to send messages.

Don’t bad mouth your ex. As much as you want to vent about them to your support system, if the child is in the house there is a good chance they will overhear something. These are all adult issues a child shouldn’t be troubled with. In their minds, knowing the issues between the two of you will make them try to pick sides. That can be damaging in and of itself. Instead, try to keep an open dialogue with them. Let the child know how much you still love them. Let them ask questions, just make sure your answers are not inflammatory.

If possible, sit with your ex at your child’s events. Imagine being five or six years old and scoring a goal or playing the best concert you’ve ever played and wanting to run to your parents… but they are sitting on opposite sides of the room. Forcing them to choose is hard on them. No matter how many times you tell them you wouldn’t be mad if they ran to the other parent first, they will still feel guilty.

Finally, maintain a united front. It was important when you were still a couple, and it is still important now. Don’t undermine the other parent in front of the child. If there is an issue, work it out in private. You also have to know you can’t control everything the other parent will do or allow at their house. Work in good faith for compromises and promoting understanding, just be prepared to not be completely happy with how things are done over there.

Keep all of this in mind and it will make life much easier on your child. While it can still be stressful for you, the other parent isn’t going anywhere either. You will see each other when there are grandkids, graduations, sporting events or concerts, and for many other milestones. The sooner you learn to work together, the easier everyone’s lives will be. For legal assistance in your custody case, don’t hesitate to contact us!