You got through thedivorce process and have seen light on the other side of the tunnel, and you were sure while in the tunnel the the light would mean smooth sailing. Now, however you find there are still coparenting issues despite the best divorce agreement in the world put together with the help of the best mediator in the world. Unfortunately, if you are coparenting you are stuck dealing with the person you want to avoid for many years to come.
Despite the studies that show children’s success after divorce is directly related to the degree of conflict between teh parents, passive aggressive tactics of control and vindication may still occur between the parents many years after the divorce. Co-parenting classes attempt to shed light on the unconscious motivations behind such actions in an attempt to make awarness a means to avoidance.
But, jerks can still be jerks, even if they know they are being jerks. They feed on conflict and often find things to create conflict over. Examples are making it difficult to switch times, inflexibility on schedule changes, no returning clothing the children came with, and refusing to provide updates on school schedules and acitivities.
You can do something about it if you expect it and are prepared for the response. A couple of tips:
1) Do not take it personally. It is not about you. If you allow it to trigger your fight emotions, you may say or do things that you will regret later on.
2) They are picking at you to get a response. No response often difuses the situation.
3) Keep the nasty letters, emails and messages.
4) Reply without emotion by letting them know you hear them, but refuse to engage any further until you can have a civilized discussion. Say, “your threats have been noted, and I am flexible about ….., but we need to discuss it calmly and without threats or harrassing statements.” I often have parents say “Tell me what you what, not what the other does not want.”
5) On the issues of clothes not being returned – one suggestion. LET IT GO. It would be nice to keep track of all clothing, but almost no one can. We all loose track of clothes in one household, let alone bouncing between two. This issue creates more conflict over the smallest of issues. This does not effect the child’s health or welfare, has no impact on parenting time, and will almost never be heard by a judge. You can always ask the child to bring the clothes back next time.
6) Use a online service like www.coparenting.com to pass infomation back and forth. In this age, there is no reason not to use these resources. You can upload calenders, send email, track expenses, and give updates all for the privacy of your computer in a safe, encrypted, environment.
Remember, your kids just want to spend time and have fun with you. So, even if your coparent is a jerk, it does not have to make your life miserable.