Fighting with your ex-spouse is all too common in our world today. This is sad because, as a rule, more contact with both parents is better for children. But only if the parents’ conflict is contained. If fighting with your ex is uncontrolled, children may do better to see one parent less — and be exposed to less fighting as a result. More contact with each parent may mean sharing time with the children equally; but that arrangement is the exception, not the rule.
Many divorced families maximize contact between children and both parents by keeping a stable routine during the school week but then coming up with creative options for using weekends, school vacations, and summer holidays. Other parents recognize that major changes are likely to take place as children grow old, and this helps them to accept less attractive options for the time being. Consistency in schedules and rules makes life less stressful for everyone. Once parents agree on a plan for spending time with their children, they do well to stick to it religiously. Children want to know where they are going to be at what times, and, while a change or delay may seem small to a parent, it can be a big deal to a child. Everyone needs some flexibility, of course; but flexibility works best if it follows long after a consistent routine has been established.
New Rules to Help You Stop Fighting with Your Ex
Do not use the children to carry your fight back and forth with them. Too many divorced partners are fighting with your ex and are talking to their kids hoping the kids will take the message back to the other parent. Or worse yet they are projecting their spouse onto one of the kids and fighting with the ex by proxy. Both of these are extremely harmful and just wrong.
A few rules on parenting alone can be useful to keep in mind. Children need love, but they also need discipline. Each household needs a few clear and reasonable rules about such things as bedtimes, responsibilities, and appropriate behavior; and parents should expect these rules to be followed. No means no, and parents make a big mistake if they let their guilt turn no into “maybe not.” Of course, a positive focus is the best way to discipline. Praising children for doing things right works much better than criticizing children for doing things wrong.
Finally, get children involved in taking responsibility for their actions and duties. Call a family meeting, explain the problem, and ask children what they (realistically) think is an appropriate solution. Children can discipline themselves pretty strictly if given the chance. And it is hard for them to argue against rules that they set for themselves. They need to know that when there is fighting with your ex in play that they did not cause it.
For More Support
If you need help and support, know we are here to do just that. Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling has two locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and in Robinson Township. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients. So check our services pages to learn more about how we can help you have the life you deserve to live.
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.
(Works Cited: Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies)
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