The third article in the series continues with some advice to help give your children the life after divorce they deserve.
They have done nothing to cause the breakdown of your relationship and deserve to be your highest priority after it. It's easy to be so preoccupied with the challenges and uncertainties you are now facing that your children's quality of life after divorce does not receive the priority it needs.
We agree never to say negative things about the other parent to or in front of the children
This is another part of the respect thing. If you still have some respect for your ex spouse then undermining him or her will only have a negative effect on your children. They do not appreciate you putting down the other parent by making unkind and negative remarks.
Children need and want to believe that both of their parents are doing the best that they can do to be effective parents in circumstances which are difficult for all. During the divorce process, children are often less confident both in their own judgment and in their parents' ability to care for them successfully.
If you undermine the other parent, you take away that little confidence the children have and you are effectively asking them to join a vendetta against the other parent. That would represent the worst of all possible worlds and have a very negative impact on everyone's life after divorce.
Any schedule changes must be discussed with the other parent first, before telling the children
The simple advice is that changing agreed routines will often cause friction between the two parents and should be avoided if at all possible. However, there will be occasions when this has to be done. If communication with the other parent is difficult then there is a temptation to rely on the children to convey this information to the other parent.
This places the children in a role that should really be reserved for the other parent and is not a good idea as it runs a high risk of involving the children in trade off negotiations between their parents - "I'll agree to this if you agree to that". Not a pretty sight and one to which they should not be exposed.
All these things like scheduling issues, the annual holiday and changes to the parenting arrangements must be discussed between the parents first. The decisions should be formalised before you present any changes to the children. Clearly they need to be involved in this process but they do not have the final say. That's for their parents.
Our children need two parents to love and care for them and to be involved in their lives on a regular basis
You created your children together and you will always be their parents. The end of your marriage does not end your parenting responsibilities. The removal of one parent from the parenting process is not in the best interests of your child. Shared parental responsibility is even more different than doing it as a couple.
Your children's lives are complex both logistically and emotionally. Throughout the children's lives there will be times when you must come together: school plays, university graduation, marriages, grandchildren and even funerals. Be sure you are both there together for all of these events.
They need to feel secure and loved by both parents and never forced to make choices between you. Bury your enmity and make the wellbeing of your children your absolute priority. It will go a long way to improving your life following divorce and theirs.
This advice is really worth following but it's not going to be easy, it will take a lot of effort, patience and goodwill to make it work. If you can put aside the anger and even resentment you feel for your former partner and concentrate upon what is best for your children then following this advice will make your children's lives a whole lot better and help all of you have a better life after divorce.