I was listening to a radio interview the other day of a certain famous man. It was quite interesting but the thing that caught my attention the most and that I have not forgotten since was when he was asked about the most difficult time in his life.
Now this man was in his late 40s and he had lost his mother a couple of years ago. They were very close and he missed her dearly.
So, when asked this question, I naturally assumed that the death of his mother would indeed be the most difficult time of his life, but it wasn't.
He talked about his parents' divorce when he was 11 years old! He said that it still affected him to this day. It as a nasty divorce to say the least that left him feeling angry, alone and abandoned as his parents fought it out.
He remembered his father not turning up at all to pick him up for the day and when he did, there was so much fighting and arguing that he would just return to his room until they were done.
The transitions between the homes was such a nightmare for him that he found himself wishing that he didn't have to see his father ever again if it meant that it would eliminate the horrible anxiety that constantly sat in his belly that was fuelled by the fear that there was going to be a vicious verbal fight when he arrived.
He was well aware that his mother didn't help by doing little things that she knew would infuriate his father. And each time, his father would rise to the occasion. It was a horrible dance.
Co-parenting after divorce or separation needn't be hell. No. It may not be easy but it needn't be hellish.
I'm not going to create a tip sheet for you on what to do to be successful in your co-parenting arrangement because no matter what I or anyone else says, the one thing that you need to constantly keep in mind is your child. That's it.
If for one second you imagine the scenario from your child's perspective then you will learn just how terribly upsetting it is to hear the exchange of words, the doors slamming, the shouting, the name-calling etc.
If you, as the parent and adult, find yourself getting angry and emotional think what it might be doing to your child; same emotion, little body.
Children of divorced parents already have plenty to cope with, plenty to adjust to and at times plenty of emotions without the added anxiety gifted by his/her parents.
Co-parenting is such a wonderful thing. It's not about point scoring. You can do that in other ways, if you must, without using your child as ammunition or holding him/her hostage.
When you send your child to the other parent in dirty clothes, arrive late to pick him/her up or not turn up at all, what do you imagine he/she is feeling? Who do you imagine is hurting? He knows arriving back with dirty clothes will only upset mum/dad, so already his anxiety is beginning to build. And why? Because you have your own agenda that's why. You're child is not your priority at that time, you are.
Keep in mind that there is a physical reaction to every emotion and in a situation such as this, the physical reaction is not a positive one and you are the cause. Sorry to sound so harsh but it's a fact.
Joint custody can be hard. It can be extremely challenging especially where you have a very unreasonable parent to work with. What I say to this is do your bit. Play your role as the supportive parent that you want to be. Have a support system where you can take your emotions, thoughts, anxieties and fears.
Just keep your child in mind. Create your own parenting plan that works for your family. He/she has really no one else.
Your marriage might be over yes, but your family isn't. It has transformed, changed and it's time to adjust to that and play along nicely.