How Can I Be a Better Single Parent?

Talking With Your Ex

                It is possible to have a healthy relationship with your ex after you guys split up. A common stereotype in our country is that we have to be enemies with our ex’s. This creates a lot of trouble for parents who are split up and sharing custody of their children or fighting between each other in court over who gets custody and who doesn’t. Move past these ideas of how you should be acting towards your ex wife or husband. Should is a word that, ironic enough as it is to say, shouldn’t be thrown around lightly. However, having a decent working relationship with the other parent of your child can be beneficial to you as well as your child. Sometimes this isn’t possible and this isn’t a perfect world. But if you share custody of your children, it is in your best interests as well as your child’s to maintain a solid working relationship so decisions can be made and custody can be shared without any major blow ups. Not sure how to go about this or looking for extra tips or advice? Here are a few things to think about, write down or implement in your daily life:

  • Living Close To Each Other. If you live close to your ex husband or ex wife, this can be easier or harder depending on how your separation went. If there is bad blood between you two, and you live in the same neighborhood, it’s not uncommon for things to get ugly real quick. If you harbor negative feelings towards your ex, think about how you exhibit these feelings. Do you badmouth the kid’s mother or father in front of the children? Did you lose some friends through the divorce? These are all things that need to be put behind you, at least in terms of interacting with your child and the other parent. Children perceive way more than people think they do and as such, pick up on negative vibes from their parents. Having a good working relationship with your ex while you share custody takes a lot of pressure off of your child.
  • Money Issues. A lot of divorced parents out there, and this is especially true for mothers, have constant problems with child support. Money can plant bad seeds in a relationship and can ruin any civility that has been established. If you’re a father or mother paying child support, it’s crucial to be up on your payments. You hear stories about people getting behind on their payments and having their wages garnished or penalties enforced by the court all the time. Not allowing this to become an issue relieves a lot of stress in situations like this.

The main thing to remember is to remain in constant contact with your ex. Nobody is a mind read; if you don’t bring up an issue you are having, in a rational and constructive way, then it’s not going to get solved. If you’re not getting enough money from your child’s father for school clothes or medication, bring it up. It’s unfortunate to have to go back to court over an issue like this when it can easily be solved by talking about it. Talking to your ex about who is picking up who or where you are going to meet if you guys meet halfway to exchange the child on weekends adds to this working relationship we’re talking about here. Do what you have to do to make sure things run smoothly.

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Posted in Child Custody, Child Visitation, Children, Divorce, Family, Parenting Tips, Raising Children
17 comments on “How Can I Be a Better Single Parent?
  1. I think it’s very important to stress that a good, healthy working relationship with the other parents takes TWO people, and both must be committed to the process. Many non-custodial parents are not committed to this, and the burden for making access transitions etc go smoothly falls onto the custodial/responsible parent. It’s high time that society at large, starting holding non-custodial parents (and especially absent and non-support paying parents) accountable.

    It takes two, and this true when together and after.

    • Spot on! Thanks for this insightful comment. Parents have to keep themselves humble for the sake of their kids. We’ll write some posts just on this subject in the next few weeks.

    • carlaannfehr says:

      I think that it is very judgmental to place negative emphasis on the non-custodial parent. I can point out a ridiculously large number of cases in which the custodial parent attempts to trash-talk the other parent in front of (and sometimes directly to) the children in an attempt to coerce them into reducing the amount of contact that they have with him/her. You point out that it takes two, and rightfully so, but at least be honest enough to recognize that in these cases that involve a lack of civil communication, the blame usually falls on BOTH parents, not just the one who got the short end of the stick in the courtroom.

      • If you were to take a closer look at my comment, you would see that I did NOT say that all non-custodial parents were to blame. I’m sure many custodial parents cause problems too – but not as many as non-custodial parents. And there is no way that most non-custodial parents are so because they got the got the short end of the legal stick. Just think, for every teenage mother there is a father who is either a teenager (or close to being that age) who’s a father – are you telling me that the majority of those teenage fathers are out there trying to get custody??? I’ll tell you now, they are not – they’re not trying to get access and they don’t want to pay child support. So never assume that non-custodial parents are so because they were short-changed on this by the court – in fact, I’d say the opposite is true. Most custodial parents are so, because they were short changed by the non-custodial parent.

      • carlaannfehr says:

        We can just agree to disagree because I don’t see the point in arguing on the well-meaning blog post of another person. For every opinion out there, you will find another that is the complete opposite, hence the reason why family courts even exist.

        In reality, the only person we can change is ourselves, so whether we’re in a custodial or a noncustodial family, the focus should always be on “what can *I* do to make the situation better?” instead of “what are *they* doing wrong?”.

  2. My divorce on paper could not appear more bitter and nasty. Between the emotional and financial damage that occurred, one would not believe the amazing, friendly relationship that my ex and have, and have had basically throughout the process. I made it this way on purpose. No matter what happened, I would not allow my son to grow up a product of a nasty divorce. Growing up with divorced parents is bad enough in my book. I want him to grow up as minimally affected from this as possible. I think I have done a good job of that. He has no idea what actually happened. In fact, he sees us get along so well that he wonders why we are even divorced. It is so important to get along, or at least be civil. Makes things so much better all around. Especially when issues arise or both parents need to be at activities for the kids.

    • That’s only possible because your ex and you agree, and both of you are obviously working together to make things go smoothly.

      How would your” I would not allow my son to grow up a product of a nasty divorce.” be working out if your ex was a horrible, nasty person who was late for access visits, cancelled them without notice or too often, was late with or refused to pay support payments, made unsafe or less than stellar parenting decisions when having access visits????

      Most parents who go through a divorce don’t want their kids to have a hard time of it, but when there is trouble, it is mainly because of one of the parents – and usually the non-custodial. When things go well, it is because both parents are working together.

      • We do not always agree. At all. I battled a 4 year divorce in the court system and prior to that, I had a mistress harassing me, had to deal with having her arrested to receive an order of protection against her for myself and my son. I have to garnish my ex-husband’s wages because for a long period time, he did not pay. He let our beautiful house foreclose. I am currently on the phone at this very moment with the child support collection unit looking for my next deposit as it is missing. I swear it never ends…My son has no clue about these things. This horrible woman that harassed me is in his life now. He does not like her but he doesn’t know about the order that once existed or how terrible she was to me. I remain friendly and cordial with my ex because it works for me better that way. It isn’t easy all of the time but it takes more energy to be angry. But this is what works for me. It has been a very long road as it is for anyone going through the divorce process. My method may not work for others, but to each their own. My son is happy, adjusted and thriving. And that was and will forever be my goal.

      • I’m sorry to hear all of that. It must be very stressful for you. It is so great that your son is thriving and happy.

  3. Reblogged this on Childs Play Counseling Services and commented:
    Some good advice on parenting your children for divorced or separated parents

  4. bobdog93 says:

    Parents have to remember it is about the kids. My wifes cousin & ex are constantly fighting in front of their 3 year old child. The poor kid does not know whether she us coming or going, constantly acting out because of the example being set. Good post.

  5. Having a working relationship with your child’s parent or your ex is important. It can give the child a sense of belonging rather than feeling as if he or she is property of one parent of the other.

    Unfortunately, no matter how much we would like to co parent, it takes two mature adults who have the best interests of the children at heart to do this. We can’t always control when the other party will move past it but we can control what we do.

    Putting your child’s interests first when making a decision can disarm our feelings of agitation when cooperation isn’t mutual. When the desire to say something negative about the other parent, think about how important they are to your child. Any hurt imposed on the other parent is imputed to your child. A loving parent does not want that and a mature adult can provide that for his or her child.

  6. Amy says:

    I am very thankful pretty much every day that my ex husband and I are truly friends. We share parenting our boys and put their interests first. I don’t know if there is any magic formula, it has taken some time and probably tongue biting on more than one occasion, but it is worth it for the good it does for the boys and honestly the good it does for the both of us.Life is too short for grudges.

    Thanks for this post 🙂

    • Thank you Amy for this positive testimony. Holding your tongue and letting little things go certainly plays a large role in being continuing a stable, communicating relationship with an ex, and any relationship for that matter at times. Good comment.

      • I was biting my tongue, going with the flow, letting little things go and doing what I could to make things easier or better for the children in relation to their father and access etc, and guess what??? My ex was walking all over me. It wasn’t in my children’s best interest (or mine, for that matter) for me to be in a positions where I was still being bullied, abused, and taken for granted. So I modelled healthy assertive behaviour and the issue is being dealt with – not with shouting and screaming at my door, but in court.

        I don’t think it’s a healthy, balanced relationship when one person is making all the accommodations, the compromises and doing all the tongue biting. Like I said earlier, it takes two. Domestic abuse can occur long after a couple are separated and people must be careful they are not encouraging anyone to let someone else take advantage of them, bully, intimidate and abuse you *for the best interests of the children*.

      • You took the proper steps and went to court to get this resolved. That’s great to hear! These situations are never easy or by no means enjoyable for anyone, and especially the children. Knowing and having the capability, maturity to recognize that your children’s well-being and development are at stake, and making the on-going character changes in your own life is one of the best ways to being a successful parent.

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