There are seemingly hundreds of things that separated and divorced co-parents can fight about. Often, they convince themselves that these fights (whether they consist of a few terse texts or a full-blown argument) are about things that are essential to their children’s well-being.
In fact, many of the things that co-parents fight about have little, if anything, to do with their children. However, constant conflict between their parents can leave children feeling anxious, depressed and even frightened.
For example, maybe you think your ex-wife’s s new boyfriend is far too young and overconfident. In fact, they may not think much about him all except that he seems to make their mom happy.
You may think that your ex-husband never lived up to his potential to provide the family with a more comfortable lifestyle because he dropped out of medical school to pursue a career with a non-profit. Your kids don’t care about that. They probably have seen a lot more of him than they would have if he’d become a doctor.
So what do your children care about? It’s important to ask them. Typically, children of divorce want to know that both parents are still there for them. They may have different skill sets. One may be great at fixing bikes, while the other can be counted on to provide help with a difficult math assignment.
Just because your co-parent continues to disappoint and sometimes frustrate or even enrage you, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a good parent. It can be wise to take a step back, sometimes with the help of a good family therapist, to make sure that you’re focusing your energy on shepherding your children through this difficult time rather than trying to make your co-parent into something they can’t and don’t need to be.
Of course, if your co-parent is doing things that are detrimental to your children’s well-being, like consistently making them late for school or having other adults around who are smoking, drinking or using drugs in front of your kids, it may be necessary to take some kind of action. Your family law attorney can provide you with some valuable guidance.